UH celebrates newly graduated medical students, UH Marine Option Program students

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Courtesy: University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH JABSOM) welcomed 77 new MD students, presenting them with crisp white coats as they walked the stage at McKinley High School Auditorium on Friday.

The annual White Coat Ceremony ushers in the MD Class of 2025. The milestone underscores recognition of the beginning of their medical careers with their first physician’s white coat, a shorter version of the coat that will be worn in their future profession. 

“Tonight is a day I’ve looked forward to for many, many years. The white coat to me, before I started this first week of medical school, meant the day of accomplishment and everything I’ve been working towards. But as we’ve been hearing from some of our mentors, the doctors and the faculty talk about the significance of the white coat, I’m realizing that it’s actually symbolic of dedicating my life to service and to the patient,” said Kelly Watanabe, a first-year medical student from Kaimuki. “I feel very privileged, honored and blessed to be in this position where I can help patients at their most vulnerable times.”

The new MD class is composed of mainly local students: 85% of whom are from Hawaii. The remaining are from Guam, Canada and the mainland US including California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon.

Eight of the students are of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

But, the White Coat Ceremony wasn’t the only milestone celebrated by UH over the weekend.

The Marine Option Program at the University of Hawaii honored more than 2,000 new graduates on the 50th anniversary of its launch.

Started in 1971, the program has turned into one of the most dynamic and inclusive projects offered by the University. It was the first to offer a marine science education pathway, a degree UH did not offer at the time.

“The Marine Option Program has provided me with a platform to really immerse myself within the marine  science community here in Hawaii. And to work under mentors that are so inspirational and supportive has been very critical in my learning experience,” said Alex Reininger, a graduate of the program.

The University says the program is designed to enrich the quality of life of its students and the community by increasing their ocean awareness, understanding and appreciation.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Marine Option Program, we’re looking forward to the next 50 years because this program has a proven track record,” added Cindy Hunter, UH Marine Option Program Director.

Students are required to complete 12 to 16 credit hours of marine-related courses, an interdisciplinary studies seminar course and a final project.

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