NYITCOM students at the hooding ceremony.


Hooding the Next Generation of Healers

May 22, 2019

On May 20, the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) Class of 2019 was welcomed into the medical profession with an emotional hooding ceremony at the Tilles Center. The auditorium was bursting with excitement as New York Institute of Technology’s 303 newest osteopathic physicians received their doctoral hoods and began the next chapter of their career.

NYITCOM’s hooding ceremony is a symbolic passing of the guard from one generation of physicians to the next, as well as a time when the medical school’s leaders and faculty share their joy with graduates. Recalling his own medical school graduation, Jerry Balentine, D.O., dean of NYITCOM and vice president for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs, empathized with students’ uncertainty about the future. He alleviated fears by sharing that NYIT medical school graduates have made vital contributions to healthcare, and the graduates of the Class of 2019 will undoubtedly do the same.

“In my current role, I have met many NYIT alumni who are practicing different aspects of medicine in many different venues. In private practice, in small single physician rural practices and large multispecialty groups, NYIT alumni are running hospitals and working at the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and NIH [National Institutes of Health],” said Balentine. “Some lead large health systems, while others teach medical students and do research … but most importantly, I have seen them heal patients in every corner of the United States and around the globe.”


The Class of 2019 gathers at the Tilles Center in anticipation of receiving their doctoral hoods.

NYIT President Hank Foley, Ph.D., reminded the new physicians that they are the next generation of healers.

“You are the doers, makers, innovators, and healers of tomorrow who will reinvent the future. You are equipped to use the latest tools and technologies to solve your patients’ problems,” said President Foley. “But you have more because at NYITCOM you learned the tenets of osteopathic medicine—taking the whole person into account by recognizing the profound effects on health that the dynamic interaction of mind, body, and spirit can have.”

The Class of 2019 achieved an outstanding residency placement rate. This year’s graduates will go on to esteemed residency programs in specialties ranging from obstetrics and gynecology to psychiatry, anesthesiology, and pediatrics. Among the many impressive residency placements were institutions such as the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medicine, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In addition, four of the class’s graduates not only obtained impressive placements, but also secured D.O./M.B.A. degrees.

Nazmul Hassan, commander of the U.S. Public Health Service for the Food and Drug Administration, presented the Award for Excellence in Public Health to Usman Aslam, who will serve his residency in general surgery at St. John’s Episcopal in, Far Rockaway, N.Y. The agency’s national award encourages medical school graduates to consider a career in public health.


From left: Class president Sana Khan; national anthem singer and student marshal, Benjamin Kramer, who received the Distinguished Service Award for Dedication to NYITCOM; student marshal Nicole Marie Angelo, who received the Stanley Schiowitz Award for Excellence in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine; Matthew Goldfinger, recipient of the Andrea N. Watson, D.O. Excellence in Humanism Award and the Dr. Matthew K. Sommella Memorial OMM Fellowship Award; Evan Asher, recipient of the Dean’s Achievement Award for Overall Academic Excellence.

Emphasis on public service continued, as nine NYITCOM graduates received armed forces scholarships and took the military oath of office, administered by U.S. Veteran Naval Officer and Assistant Dean, NYITCOM-Arkansas, Amanda Deel, D.O., and U.S. Navy Lieutenant, Michael Solomon.  

The event can be particularly sentimental when medicine runs in the family, and loved ones are welcomed into the profession by their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. This year, nearly 60 family members carried out that honor.

Class President Sana Khan concluded the ceremony with a humorous, yet poignant, speech that tied lessons from notable television shows such as Scrubs and Parks and Recreation to the physician’s responsibility to provide ethical care and treatment.

“The decisions that we make from here on out will permeate further than ever before as they impact the patients who we intend to serve, comfort, and honor,” said Khan. “Any time you feel overwhelmed by the moral ambiguity of interactions with insurance companies, pharmaceutical representatives, hospital administrators, or even the patients themselves, just remember to ask yourself whether you are proud of the choice that you are making and whether your decision is ultimately being guided by your care for your patients.”