May 04, 2021

Class of 2021 graduates: They have led during the pandemic; on May 14, they become doctors

Medical School will stream the festivities on the Michigan Medicine YouTube channel at 3 p.m. EDT on May 14, but the community can begin celebrating now at

Medical School commencement

The University of Michigan medical student education experience uniquely prepares our graduates to make an impact in health care.  

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has greatly affected their final two years of medical school, also provided the graduating Class of 2021 with unforeseen opportunities to show our community, and the world, that they, indeed, are ready to lead and change medicine.

Many of our graduating seniors have volunteered through the M-Response Corps, created new learning experiences, and led other important initiatives to help in any way they can. They did not watch and observe as the world changed; instead, they stood up, engaged and helped our community respond.

Now, after almost a year-and-a-half of perseverance, these 169 doctors-to-be will gather with loved ones around their mobile phones, monitors, laptops and screens to participate in a virtual Michigan Medical School commencement ceremony and celebrate entry into their chosen profession.

The online ceremony will feature remarks from the honored speaker, Joneigh S. Khaldun, M.D., MPH, a U-M alumna, chief medical executive for the State of Michigan, and chief deputy director for health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; student speaker Steven Goldenthal, who was selected by his peers to speak for the graduating class; and Gifty Kwakye, M.D., a faculty member chosen by the class as the Senior Award recipient. In addition, University and Medical School leadership will deliver remarks, and also will guide graduates through many of the traditional segments of the ceremony, including an official reading of each student’s name, and recitation of the Hippocratic Oath.

The Medical School will stream the festivities on the Michigan Medicine YouTube channel at 3 p.m. EDT on May 14, but the community can begin celebrating now through the Commencement 2021 website at, which allows graduates, families, friends, faculty and staff to post their messages of thanks, congratulations and well wishes. Community members can also begin sharing messages on their Twitter and public Instagram accounts by using the hashtag #GoBlueMD.

“Our graduating students have reminded us of just how remarkable they are in these challenging times,” said Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs at U-M and dean of the U-M Medical School. “Through observing their many demonstrations of leadership, I am confident that the future of health care is in very good hands. Congratulations to the Class of 2021.”

Commencement day caps a two-week celebration of the Class of 2021, which began May 3 with a daily sharing of the Graduation Awards recipients on the Medical School’s social media channels, including FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, as well as the Medical School website.

“As we reflect on the journey of this graduating class, we need to recognize how this pandemic disrupted the most formative phase of their education; the time when students typically make choices to understand what kind of physician they want to be, “ says Rajesh S. Mangrulkar, M.D., associate dean for medical student education and the Marguerite S. Roll Professor of Medical Education. “Through it all, this class went through this time with grace and kindness, and they also doubled-down on their commitment to serve our patients and communities. We are so proud of the Class of 2021.”

There are many other notable accomplishments for this year’s senior medical students: 

  • Thirty-three percent of the students will stay in the state of Michigan for their next level of training, which includes 22% who plan to continue their education at Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center. The rest will embark on training in 30 other states. A resounding 98.2% of U-M Medical School students matched for their residency, which exceeded the national average of 92.8% percent.
  • Twenty-seven students will graduate with both a medical degree from U-M and an advanced degree in another field from a top-ranked graduate program at U-M, Stanford, Columbia and elsewhere. These degrees include Ph.D.’s as part of U-M’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), or master’s degrees in public health, clinical research or business. Three students have also completed both a medical degree and a residency program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
  • While COVID-19 has elicited feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, it also inspired a groundswell of humanitarianism. When the pandemic impacted their world, U-M’s medical students immediately wanted to make a difference — and they have. Members of the quickly formed M-Response Corps worked tirelessly to meet an endless stream of pandemic-related needs since last March, involving more than 500 medical students.
  • U-M Medical School offers students the chance to choose a “Path of Excellence” (PoE) a scholarly concentration where they can learn about important fields that improve health such as bioethics, health policy, the humanities, scientific research or global medicine, nurturing their passion, interests and their projects from the moment they enter medical school. Approximately 82% of 2021 grads completed a PoE.
  • Beginning with this cohort of graduating students, U-M Medical School now requires students to complete a Capstone for Impact (CFI) project, as they build experience in learning how to lead change in medicine. Eighty-two percent of the graduating students completed a CFI project this year. Projects ranged from developing a novel supplemental oxygen therapy control system, to training and deploying U-M medical students as respiratory therapist extenders during COVID-19, and building an equitable surgical training pipeline.

For more information on Commencement, visit: