Hello and congratulations to the tenth graduating class of Human Biology!
It is such an honor to be asked to speak to all of you today. I know I am sitting in front of a group of individuals that are going to be leaders in their chosen fields and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals and to make the changes they want to see not only in their individual fields, but also the world. I am confident in this because I know during your time at Indiana University in the Human Biology Program you have learned so many invaluable skills that will allow you to shine and will allow others to see you as a leader. My classmates have become naturopathic doctors, cardiovascular surgeons, military leaders, ob gyns, social workers, physical therapists, and so so so much more! When I reflect back on my time here (I can hardly believe it has been almost 10 years), I have such great memories but most of all I am appreciative of the great gifts this major has given me to help me get through each level of education and to become the kind of physician I always dreamed of becoming. The gifts of the multidisciplinary lens, teamwork, and problem based learning.
I remember being a freshman at Indiana University and I started as a Biology major, knowing I wanted to go to medical school. This seemed like the most direct and relevant route. I had signed up for some social science classes like Sociology and Psychiatry to get the appropriate S&H credits I needed to accompany my College requirements. I loved these classes! They challenged me to see the human body in a different way, not the mechanisms that allow it to live or can go awry causing disease. Instead, they focused on the things that make it uniquely human. Our evolution, history, sexuality, traditions, personalities, thoughts, and feelings. The things the hard sciences hardly ever address. After all, I knew as a physician I wanted to treat the whole person, not just the disease. I didn’t want to know my patient as the lady with the large fibroid uterus, but instead to know that Susan works in a factory and her pelvic pain and bleeding from her fibroids is making her job too hard and it is effecting her ability to provide for her family, she feels debilitated and helpless. By learning more about humanity itself I was able to see the human in many different perspectives other than a body of organs and the chemical reactions that take place inside. I craved to learn more about not only the hard sciences but also the social sciences, literature, history, and for me I have always had an interest in sexuality and gender.
After learning of all the amazing classes on this campus, I thought: how am I going to combine all of this learning into one degree along with my premed requirements and still graduate? Then I got an email from Dr. Schlege,l and it was asking for students interested in creating a major called Human Biology. I remember walking to the meeting from Forest down third street a little nervous but so excited. This sounded like the perfect fit. I went to the meeting and I was so thrilled to learn that this was the answer to my desire for a more multidisciplinary education while still concentrating on human health and disease, sexuality, and my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor.
We started with the first HUBI 101 class. It was perfect! To be taught by professors that were experts in completely unrelated fields such as Caribbean literature and Neuroscience was truly a gift- the gift of the multidisciplinary lens. You may not fully understand this gift until you start your next chapter or have the opportunity to work with others who weren’t trained with such a lens. As scientists we are taught to approach problems and situations in a very analytical way. Often times we can struggle with the gray areas and may concentrate on the fine details, unable to see the broader picture. But coming from this program, you learn to view problems from many different lenses. We have the benefit of watching our mentors and even those around us with very similar, but yet very different goals, aspirations, and backgrounds discuss topics, create projects, and solve problems. Being able to see through all these different lenses will set you apart from many around you, you will have that lens to help solve problems and visualize systems and interconnections between and through disciplines. This is such an amazing gift we were taught. Also being part of a multidisciplinary major we learn how to respect others thoughts and opinions. It is so important to be able to step in someone else’s shoes and to be able to see things from their point of view. Respect for others goes such a long way.
The other lesson you learn is that of teamwork. Love it or hate it, we are surrounded by tasks that must be completed in the confines of a team. The reality of life is that really everything you do involves a team. Your family acts as a team helping to run a household while simultaneously helping each member to reach their full potential. You probably learned your “best” or “favorite” role to play on a team. But, the great thing is here in Human Biology you get the chance to play each role. You learn your strengths as a team member and your weaknesses. You learn how to act as the lead on the team, how to be a valuable team member and support, and even likely learned qualities or actions within in a team that can lead to failure. These lessons on teamwork have served me well and I know they too will serve you well. As Charles Darwin says, “"It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” And another one of my favorite quotes on teamwork from Andrew Carnegie, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Together you have all learned, made mistakes, created friendships, and learned important communication skills throughout all your hard teamwork in this program. These lessons will continue to help you shine on the many more teams you will be a part of throughout your life.
The third greatest lesson I took from the Human Biology Program is that of problem based learning. The ability to identify a problem, strategize a plan to solve it, know the resources available to help create that plan, and then have the creativity, nerve, and desire to learn to attain that solution. This problem based learning is taught to us with each assignment and lecture, it becomes your natural way of thinking. We become expert problem solvers helping us to be seen as natural leaders. These skills will help you to solve not only your own personal struggles but also those of the ones around you.
I remember sitting in your seats in my cap and gown and feeling that contentment and pride as I knew I had reached a goal I set forth. That feeling is so amazing and I want you to remember it, treasure it, and continue to seek that feeling as you make new goals and continue to strive hard to reach them. I also remember a sense of unease, maybe even fear, as I knew not only was this graduation a celebration of an end, but also the start of a future. A future I had dreamed of and worked so hard to attain. This graduation, or as It is called in Latin, a commencement, is often seen as the ending point. While it was the goal you all have been working toward, it is far from the end of your journey, but merely it is just a new beginning. The beginning of a new chapter of your story in life. These three major skills of looking through a multidisciplinary lens, teamwork, and the ability to understand and be able to come up with problem based solutions have helped shaped me into not only the person I wanted to become, but also a leader at each step of my journey to become a physician. Ultimately they helped me reach the goals I had set forth and become the doctor I wrote about in my personal statement in medical school I quote, “I want to develop into a physician who brings a caring personality, good bed side manner, listening skills, leadership, and intelligence to my practice.”
I know today for many of you it is just the first day of many more hard years of work, but what you will find is that your time here at Indiana University, specifically in the Human Biology Program, has given you all the skills necessary for you to be successful in any endeavor you pursue. So keep dreaming, keep learning, keep up the teamwork and keep looking through that multidisciplinary lens and you will succeed as you move forward and you too will be forever grateful to our Alma Mater and the Human Biology Program. Again congratulations to the Indiana University Human Biology Class of 2018!
Hello and congratulations to the tenth graduating class of Human Biology!