GALVESTON —This year’s keynote address to the School of Medicine’s graduating class of the University of Texas Medical Branch will be delivered by a former astronaut, a former Olympic luge coach and a mountain climber who has stood atop Mount Everest. No, this won’t involve multiple commencement speakers.Those accomplishments all belong to Dr. Scott Parazynski, Chief Medical Officer and director of the Center for Polar Medical Operations at UTMB.
Parazynski, who became an astronaut in 1992, flew on five shuttle missions and went on seven spacewalks, plans to tell the new doctors to keep challenging themselves and to think innovatively as they proceed on their medical careers.
He also plans to stress the importance of teamwork and not being afraid to continue to set lofty life goals.
“You have to keep striving, keep on challenging yourself. Don’t be afraid to keep your bucket list full at all times,” Parazynski said.
Recalling his first attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Parazynski said that he could have tried to continue the climb after he ruptured a disc in his back. “But I had to think of the team and not just myself. I would have jeopardized not only my life but those of my teammates. So as doctors we have to always be thinking about how our decisions and actions affect others.”
He’ll also discuss the importance of service to others. President John F. Kennedy’s immortal words “To those whom much is given, much is expected” should be the life motto of all new physicians.
More than half of the class of 205 will continue with their studies as residents at Texas hospitals; 37 of them will do all or a part of their residency training at UTMB, said Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, executive vice president and provost and dean of the School of Medicine. He noted that about a fifth of the class is from Harris County.
“We’re very proud of the fact that many of our graduates will be residents at some of the best hospitals in our nation,” Jacobs said. “And we are equally proud that so many of our graduates will remain in Texas to continue their training.”
The ceremony Saturday also will include the announcement of the Gold-Headed Cane Award winner who is selected by his or her graduating peers as well as the introduction of this year’s Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award winners.
WHO: Dr. Scott Parazynski, keynote speaker.
WHAT: Commencement of the 123rd class of the School of Medicine at UTMB; 205 graduates. More than half will stay in Texas.
WHERE: Moody Gardens Convention Center, One Hope Blvd., Galveston, Texas.
WHEN: 10 a.m., May 31.