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Future physicians, dentists, lawyers graduate

by Michael Kirk & Kristina Goodnough - May 29, 2007

Peace is one of the fundamental rights of humanity, and without it all other fundamental rights lose their meaning, said Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi in her native Farsi.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi delivers the Commencement address at the School of Law on May 20.
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi delivers the Commencement address at the School of Law on May 20.
Photo by Tina Covensky

Ebadi, using an interpreter, delivered the commencement address at the School of Law on May 20, where 227 degrees were awarded.

She spoke about the nature of peace, social justice, and democracy.

Peace is possible only if people know their rights are not violated and their dignity is respected, said Ebardi.

“Peace stands on two pillars. These pillars are democracy and social justice.

“Peace is one of the fundamental rights of humanity,” and without it, she said, “all other fundamental rights lose their meaning.”

Ebadi, a lawyer, was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2003 for her work to advance democracy and human rights, especially the rights of women and children.

She is the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.

“Democracy is not a present you can bring to a people,” she told the audience. “It is not a commodity you can export to a country. Democracy has to be born and bred from within.”

She also discussed income disparity throughout the world.

“A society where there is a large gap between the poor and the rich cannot be a stable society,” she said.

Ebadi is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children’s Rights in Iran.

The author of a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights, she has had several books translated into English, including The Rights of the Child: A Study of Legal Aspects of Children’s Rights in Iran, published with support from UNICEF; and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran.

In 2006, Random House published Iran Awakening, Ebadi’s memoir co-written with Iranian-American Azadeh Moaveni.

As a lawyer, Ebadi has been involved in a number of controversial political cases.

She was the attorney for the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of serial murders in 1999-2000.

She worked to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999, where several students died.

Her work has led the Iranian government to imprison her on numerous occasions.

She campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems.

Ebadi earned a law degree from the University of Tehran.

From 1975 to 1979, she served as president of the city court of Tehran, where she was one of the first female judges in Iran.

After the Iranian revolution in 1979, she was forced to resign.

She also has served as a professor at the University of Tehran.

In her closing message to graduates, she said: “Let us fertilize science just as we fertilize land. Let us become wind and spread righteousness and friendship. Let us become fire and burn ignorance and fanaticism. Let us be kind to one another.”

Medical student Mitesh Kabadi shows family members his degree certificate after the Health Center Commencement ceremony May 13.
Medical student Mitesh Kabadi shows family members his degree certificate after the Health Center Commencement ceremony May 13.
Photo by Al Ferreira

Health Center
The medical, dental and bio-physical science graduates were congratulated on their hard work and success and exhorted to continue during the Health Center’s 36th Commencement on May 13.

“Our graduates are going out into a brave new world of medicine,” said Dr. Peter Deckers, dean of the School of Medicine.

“We have decoded the human genome and are moving into an era of molecular diagnosis and molecular therapies. Our students are well prepared to participate in these scientific endeavors.

“This is the most exciting era of medicine,” he added.

Commencement speaker Dr. Charles Bertolami told the graduates, “You are all so smart. You all are accustomed to seeing a lot of losers along the sidelines. Being a winner can come to seem extremely natural.”

Bertolami, is dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of California-San Francisco.

He held his first faculty position as an assistant professor at the UConn Health Center.

He joked that it was difficult to understand how “a white coat, 35 percent cotton, 65 percent polyester blend, can give someone so much arrogance.”

To avoid that, Bertolami urged graduates to nurture emotional traits in a conscious effort to build character to prepare themselves for later hard times.

Doctors and dentists have to learn how to brace themselves, especially when they encounter severe trauma.

Bracing can be desensitizing, and that is necessary for handling difficult cases.

“But you also have to recognize that it is an extremely dangerous game. You can end up repressing your feelings,” he cautioned graduates.

“Character is entirely a matter of the emotions. It occurs while you marinate positive emotions of altruism, joy, contentment and love,” said Bertolami.

“People may forget what you tell them, but they never forget how you make them feel.”

In remarks on behalf of the alumni Dr. Lynn Kosowicz, MD ’80, complimented the graduates on finding time during their busy school years for volunteer activities ranging from offering clinics for migrant farm workers and the homeless, to providing care to the underserved on travels to Peru, Haiti, and Nigeria, and other countries.

She urged them “to continue these good works that you started on the hill in Farmington.”

The commencement ceremonies, held this year for the first time at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, added 77 physicians and 36 dentists to the roster of those with MD and DMD degrees earned at the UConn Health Center.

In addition, 12 Ph.D. degrees and 21 MPH degrees were awarded.

Justin Clemow, who received his DMD degree, spoke for the dental students; and Daniel Colonno, who received an MD degree, spoke on behalf of the medical students.  

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