Charité held a virtual celebration on Sunday 13 March to say goodbye to its 663 university graduates in medicine and dentistry. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the graduation ceremony had a hybrid format, with an online presentation held in the auditorium of the CharitéCrossOver (CCO) faculty building at the CCM campus. The newly minted doctors and dentists celebrated with their friends and family via livestream. This was the first time that the event was held under its new name "Absolvia".
Prof. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Charité, congratulated the graduates on successfully completing their studies: "We are proud that you chose to study at Charité and we hope that you will carry the spirit of Charité – which blends a scientific approach with a sense of responsibility and a willingness to give something back – with you and put it to good effect in your future professional life." The Dean also referred to the COVID-19 pandemic during his welcome speech: "You have lived through an extraordinary time as students. You have been impacted by this because you were unable to complete your studies as normal over the last two years. But the pandemic has also demonstrated the importance of the professions that you have chosen." Nevertheless, Prof. Pries had the war in Ukraine in mind when he spoke encouragingly to graduates: "It's difficult in the current situation to focus on something else and also to properly appreciate the recognition that you have all earned and the joy of completing your studies. Try to enjoy your day because you have all earned it." The Dean ended his speech with a special request: "I hope that you will look back on your time at Charité with pleasure or even come back again and become part of the big Charité family in the future as well."
Keynote speech from Prof. Petra Ritter
Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the current situation in Ukraine, Prof. Petra Ritter, Head of the Section Brain Simulation, used her role as guest speaker to ask a crucial question: What role do anticipation and proactive action play in the everyday working life of doctors? And she also had a clear answer to that question: "As doctors, our job is to advocate for people's well-being, to not turn away from existing or imminent suffering, and to maintain our position courageously: For life and for a peaceful and compassionate society." The scientist encouraged graduates to be open to others in their future professional lives, by "not only seeing your own reality – but also anticipating the reality of others." She said that communication plays an important part in this: "There is – currently – no form of artificial intelligence that can see the world from a human perspective. AI and robots are not people, their software is not programmed with the complex models and theories that we humans have; the models that determine not only the context and experience but also the framework for perception and the resulting actions. But above all else, doctors are people and they see the people in their patients."
"Absolvia" and the formal awarding of certificates
The certificates were symbolically awarded by Vice Dean Prof. Geraldine Rauch, who referred in her speech to the new name for the graduation ceremony: "Now you are all graduates. You're starting a new chapter, but you will undoubtedly be leaving something behind as well. Although that will definitely involve melancholy and nostalgia, you should still enjoy this moment. 'Absolvia' means 'breaking loose', 'absolving yourself', freedom. That's a meaningful word right now."
Alumni prize for "AG Wissenshunger"
After the virtual awarding of certificates, Tine Hassert introduced Charité Alumni and listed the benefits for former and current students and employees of Charité. She also highlighted the two-tier structure of the shared area, which is designed to facilitate communication and networking. Next came the presentation for the Charité Alumni Club's alumni prize, awarded by the jury this year to "AG Wissenshunger". "Wissenshunger" ("thirst for knowledge") is a student public health project from the Bundesvertretung der Medizinstudierenden in Deutschland e.V. – the association representing medical students in Germany – that uses workshops to educate children and young people about healthy eating. The prize is worth 1500 euros and was presented by Prof. Joachim W. Dudenhausen, Chair of the Charité Alumni Club, to Marinela Gerganova and Steffen Häseli representing "AG Wissenshunger".
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