Class of 2023 Match Day speech
Kelly Kons, student speaker
Good morning friends, faculty, and loved ones. I am honored to be speaking for you today.
I want to start by congratulating my classmates and their loved ones on the years of hard work and sacrifice that have led to today. This is a day that we’ve dreamt about for years; however, it’s important that we take a moment and thank the people who believed in us, supported us, and were patient with us. The results of this residency match not only reflect the time and energy that went into our residency applications, but the strength of our support systems and the high-quality education we received.
To my parents, sisters, and fiancé – I would not be here without you; thank you especially for not letting me switch my undergrad major to English when organic chemistry got too hard and for reminding me that a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life.
But we did it.
During our first two weeks of medical school, Dr. Paul Haidet introduced the concept of “Grit.” Grit is defined as a “positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state.”
We have persevered through intense coursework, standardized tests, anxiety, exhaustion, significant debt, and regimented schedules with little to no room for our personal lives. We chose this because of our passion – our passion for scientific curiosity and lifelong learning; our passion to serve our communities and provide more equitable health care; and our passion to challenge ourselves to be better every single day. And today is the next step in achieving our long-term goal of becoming physicians, leaders, educators, and advocates.
We’ve come so far.
[During our white coat ceremony], after reciting the oath of our class, [our classmate] excitedly yelled “WE ARE” to which we all replied ……..
For the next four years, we participated in this chant, proud to announce that we belonged to the Penn State community. For some of us, today could be the last day. It’s hard to believe that [our class] will be scattered throughout the country in a few short months. However, it comforts me to know that, together, we will forever be branded by Penn State College of Medicine. For the rest of our lives, every time a student, patient, or colleague searches our names, Penn State College of Medicine, will be listed for all to see. As I stand before you all today excited for our next adventures, I want to reflect on what it truly means to be united by Penn State College of Medicine for the rest of our careers.
- To me, it’s Dr. George Henning, calling to congratulate me after earning a spot off the waitlist.
- It’s Dr. Dwight Davis showing us the phenomenal, diverse accomplishments of our classmates on day 1 of med school, which taught me that not only is [one of our classmates] a genius, but he’s also a national Latin dance champion.
- It’s [a classmate’s] transparency throughout his journey as a parent to gorgeous boys with a complex medical condition.
- It’s [our classmate’s] family sharing their heartbreak and inspiring us with their resilience.
- It’s Dr. Justen Aprile’s vulnerability in describing some of the lowest moments of his career to remind us that THIS. IS. HARD.
- It’s learning MSK anatomy online. And, unfortunately, COVID-19.
- It’s coming together as a community, kneeling in front of the hospital in solidarity supporting white coats for black lives.
- It’s Dr. Manny Williams, a Gastroenterologist, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and mother, pursuing (and completing) her Master’s in Education to better equip herself with the tools to lead us and because she never wants to stop learning.
- It’s Dr. Sarah Horvath speaking on the steps of the capitol, advocating for her patient’s health.
- It’s grit.
Penn State College of Medicine has made me a better person and shaped my values as a physician. Yes, medical school was stressful and we probably could’ve used a few more wellness days, but the past four years have also been some of the best of my life. Penn State is responsible for providing us with best friends, surrounding us with incredible mentors, and for guiding us towards are dreams of becoming physicians.
So, before we become fixated on the words in these sealed white envelopes, I want to share five goals for myself and my career that have been shaped by our medical education at Penn State.
- First, never stop striving to be a more equitable thinker.
- Second, don’t let residency take away your humanism.
- Third, find something you love the same way that Dr. Ronald Miller loves teaching, and longcat.
- Fourth, don’t forget to use laughter as a coping strategy.
- And finally, make time to celebrate the good moments.
Look around and think about how lucky our classmates’ residency programs are to acquire such hardworking, fun, humanistic, and gritty physicians. Thank you all for inspiring me every single day, making me laugh, not judging me when I cried, and for providing the epitome of a supportive and collaborative learning environment.
This is where the sacrifice pays off. I am so proud to be branded by Penn State with every single one of you. Be proud of yourselves and be proud of where we came from. Because we are Penn State.