Dean's Update

May 19, 2023 - Aron Sousa, MD


First off, I want to thank all the people who contributed to our wonderful graduation ceremony and the SNMA banquet last week. That list of contributors contains multitudes. Our efforts were led by Wanda Lipscomb, PhD, our associate dean for student affairs as well as our senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion. She runs a well-oiled, all-day collaborative that gets us all where we are supposed to be, makes sure all the pictures are taken, matches graduates and their guest hooders, engages the media, provides a gift for the children of the graduates as they cross the stage with their parent, runs the faculty award presentations, and, most importantly, gives each graduate time on the stage for their hooding to celebrate their degree in front of their friends and family.

Dozens of staff and faculty from our communities, academic affairs, curriculum, and the dean’s office work on the ceremony. I particularly want to celebrate Amy Fowler, who works in student affairs as the student events and activities coordinator. She organizes the major CHM student events from the white coat matriculation ceremony to graduation and the many events in between with equanimity, intelligence, and hard work. Thank you, Amy. And my thanks to all of the staff who spent their Friday evening and the Saturday before Mother’s Day working to create an excellent commencement ceremony for our graduates and their loved ones.

This Sunday, after a quick weekend trip to Indiana (Hi, Mom and Dad!), I will be in Flint for the Black Leaders of Detroit (BLD) event, Speak For Yourself. We teamed up with BLD after meeting with their leaders and Arlynn Dailey, our energetic and talented Southeast Michigan director of community engagement & outreach. BLD runs the weeklong Ride For Equity starting in Detroit and ending at Mackinaw Island to raise money for Black entrepreneurs in Detroit. At the end of each day’s bike ride, they stop to hold community conversations called Speak For Yourself. The college is hosting and sponsoring the Speak For Yourself event during their stop in Flint at the end of day one this year, and I look forward to attending and listening.

For an educator, each graduation is the end of an era. We’ve been with these students in classrooms, on the wards, in the operating room, in labor and delivery. Personally, I was so delighted to shake hands with my Williams EL 3 students with whom, like other fellows, I spent more than 150 hours during more than 70 small group sessions across ECE and MCE – it’s a remarkable teaching experience. This class’s students have been through too much. They’ve seen the full brunt of the pandemic and went virtual in the midst of their second semester. They lost family members to COVID-19. They marched after the police shooting of Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids last year. Like the rest of us they watched the death of George Floyd and hate crimes against people of Pacific and Asian heritage. These students have family still in Ukraine, Syria, war-torn stretches of Africa, and violence rent communities around the world, including the MSU campus and East Lansing.

Our peoples suffer war, persecution, and disasters amplified by distrusts we hold dear and fears that hopelessness foments in us. And yet, as I looked out on our graduates last Saturday, and I watched Ben and Anne promise themselves to each other, and as I heard our students respond to Dr. Mona’s call with their own prescriptions for a healthier world, my fears lessened and my hope was kindled.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD FACP



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