University of South Florida

Cheers and hugs surround this year’s record number of MD degree graduates

Lowell Dawson, MD, was overcome by the high emotion of the day as he tried to express the effect he and his classmates would have on patients, likening being a physician to being an artist.


Dr. Lowell Dawson

“While they grapple over canvas and oil paints, our medium is a human being – our medium has feelings,” he said, slightly choking on the word feelings.

Dr. Dawson was giving the Farewell to the Class – his classmates chose him – at the 2014 USF Morsani College of Medicine Commencement Ceremony April 11 at the Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg.

“Our medium expresses itself in joy and fear, laughter and pain. Our medium has loved ones who trust us to eliminate pain and suffering,” he said. “Don’t forget what is fundamental to the practice of medicine, the art of medicine, through listening, comforting and caring. While every day is not going to be perfect, make it as close to perfect as it can be for your patients.”

Dr. Dawson is one of 125 students hooded and presented with diplomas at this year’s graduation. The celebration included inspiration, validation and wise words of advice from a range of voices, including the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy.

Vice Admiral Matthew L. Nathan, MD, FACP, shared with the class his insight into the world of medicine they were about to enter.


Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan

“You are entering a world of tremendous changes and challenges in medicine,” Vice Admiral Nathan said. “You can be the generation that makes the difference. Sometimes you cannot be the cure. Sometimes you cannot be a savior. But, you can be there for your patients. You can measure your success in medicine by the difference you make in the lives of others. You are the future of healing arts and I don’t think we could be in better hands.”

The morning ceremony began with encouraging words from USF System President Judy Genshaft.


President Judy Genshaft

“USF has graduated more than 3,500 physicians who have had an immeasurable impact on the health and welfare of the communities they serve through providing world-class care and advancing medicine through research,” she said. “And that is what makes this commencement day a milestone in the future of our community…. There are no limits to the good that comes from your talent, hard work and dedication, and we are so proud to have worked in partnership with you to fulfill this important mission.”

This year marked the 40th year USF’s medical school graduated new physicians, a point that was emphasized by Harry van Loveren, MD, chair of the USF neurosurgery and interim dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.

“For 40 years now, the University of South Florida has been shaping health care across Tampa Bay and the nation, educating the doctors who care of all of us,” Dr. van Loveren said.


Dr. Anum Ahmed is hooded by Dr. Orhan Arslan (left) and Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez.


Dr. Javier Cuevas was the Mace Bearer.



Dr. Greg Nicolosi and Carolyn Nicolosi were presented with the 2014 Dean’s Award for their commitment to the College.


Dr. Alicia Monroe lead the Oath of Hippocrates.


Dr. Jose Lezama presented the Charge to the Graduates.






After graduation, several students received military promotions, lead by Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan. From left Merissa Weiss, Greg Horn, Nicholas Studer, Daniel Houskamp, Brent Tilseth, Lynette Studer, and John Briggs.



Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan with Dr. John Curran.

Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.

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