‘One Big Giant Family:’ White Coat Ceremony Held for the OUWB Class of 2026

It was a memorable Monday for OUWB’s 125 newest students as the Class of 2026 officially began their medical school journey during the school’s White Coat Ceremony of 2022.

Featuring the 12th class of the school, the event coincided with the first day of orientation for new medical students. Family and friends participated by attending in person or via live stream.

The ceremony featured remarks from Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, MD; Ben Schwartz, MD, president of Beaumont Health; Jay Fisher, MD, President, Medical Staff, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak; and Berkley Browne, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs.

Duane Mezwa, MD, Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, told those who attended and watched online that members of the Class of 2026 have the perfect mix of qualities to fit into the OUWB culture.

“Class of 2026 … have taken their first steps on their path to medical school,” he said.

“I hope you always know that everyone in this room is happy that you are here at OUWB. Welcome to the family.”

Now considered a rite of passage, each student is given a white coat and they recite, as a group, the Geneva Oath. At OUWB, students receive their white coats from mentors with whom they will work closely for the next four years through the school’s PRISM program.

“The white coat itself has a lot of meaning,” Mezwa said. “It is associated with science, a symbol that the profession of medicine is based on scientific research. It is the uniform of medicine, and by wearing this uniform you are accepting a new level of responsibility.”

Mezwa also highlighted the class’s already impressive achievements.

all 125 members including six Oakland University graduates they were ultimately selected from more than 8,000 applications.

An image of a student receiving a white coat.
Claire Kopachik receives her white coat from her mother, Annette Kopachik.

Addressing students’ commitment to compassion, altruism, empathy, and commitment, Mezwa highlighted the more than 165,000 total service hours completed by the class prior to OUWB. She also recognized the “diverse and intellectual characteristics that make up this class.”

Browne highlighted many of those unique features, from where students have traveled to what interests them and more.

“His drive and determination is what paved the way for him here at the OUWB School of Medicine, and we look forward to seeing him continue to rise to the challenges ahead,” he said.

Schwartz told the class that he is “excited to go on this journey with you.” He reminded everyone that the impact of the class will one day be “very, very, very significant.”

“I promise that our system is committed to a strong partnership … and that our faculty derive tremendous pleasure and happiness … from being a part of their experience, from being a part of their education,” he said. “I promise that we will do everything we can to make sure that the next generation of providers…is as strong as possible.”

“I am super excited to start this journey with you and look forward to seeing you in the hospital corridors,” he said.

‘A big giant family celebrating’

An image of students reciting the Geneva Oath
Members of the OUWB Class of 2026 recite the Geneva Oath during the school’s White Coat of 2022 ceremony.

Students, families, and friends at the OUWB 2022 White Coat Ceremony generally reported feeling excited, nervous, and most of all, proud.

“It’s an honor to be here,” said Chennai Marcus. “Everyone at OUWB has been so supportive…it feels like one big giant family putting on an event.”

Bryan Noirot said “it feels amazing that I finally got to this point”.

“It took me so long to get there… I don’t think it’s established that I’m really here,” said Noirot, who said getting his white coat was “a big moment.”

Joud Obri said he was “excited” ahead of the ceremony with no nerves or tensions present as he begins his “exciting journey”.

Evan Sangster said “it has been many years of preparation, hard work, failures and mistakes… everything that has gotten me here.” He said he was “excited but still very nervous.”

Sangster said he was looking forward to celebrating the day with family.

“Everything I have been able to do until today has been thanks to them,” he said. “It’s as much about them as it is about me, so I’m really excited to share this experience with them.”

Vicky Lu also said that celebrating the day with family was the highlight. Lu said that she has a cousin who attends another medical school, but she did not receive the traditional white coat ceremony (in 2020) due to COVID-19. Lu said that made her especially grateful for Monday’s event.

“My family was very excited to be here in person and celebrate this achievement,” he said. “I’m so glad we were able to have an in-person celebration like this.”

James Um said he also spent time reflecting on his trip to Michigan from Southern California. Monday’s ceremony brought all thoughts together.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I got here in the first place … and it’s just a lot of thanks,” he said.

The family of the OUWB students who attended generally expressed feelings of pride.

Michael Gallagher, MD, a Beaumont cardiologist, presented his daughter, Lindsay Gallagher, with his white coat.

“I am so, so proud,” he said. “I am proud of what this medical school has done, proud of this amazing group of students, and especially proud of my daughter. It’s a really special day.”

Andrea Karsten, mother of Joel Karsten, said “it’s been a long journey.”

“We are incredibly proud and pleased that our son is in the OUWB,” he said. “It’s a very welcoming campus and community…it’s absolutely the right place for our son.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, Marketing Writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit OUWB Communications & Marketing Web page.

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