Student Response to COVID

Heeding the call for help in battling COVID-19, Weill Cornell Medicine medical students volunteered to graduate early to support their colleagues on the front lines of the pandemic

Nearly two-thirds of fourth-year medical students opted to graduate in April, enabling these newly minted MDs to provide much-needed assistance before they start their residencies. A total of 109 students were qualified to graduate in 2020; all of them, including students who did not graduate early, will receive their diplomas during the scheduled commencement on May 28.

While the number of patients seeking hospitalization is slowing, the need for front-line healthcare workers, including doctors, remains strong. The former Weill Cornell Medicine students will be performing important support duties. 

“Everyone at Weill Cornell is so appreciative of their selflessness and willingness to step up and lend a hand during this unprecedented crisis,” says Overseer Natasha Leibel, MD ’98, president of the Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association. “They are a talented and hard-working group of professionals, and we are so proud of them.”

This is not the first time that Weill Cornell Medical College students have graduated into a national crisis. During both world wars, the school accelerated the curricula in order to supply the war effort with more physicians. This most recent graduation is in keeping with the institution’s long tradition of responding to pressing community needs.

“We went into this field to help people, and now is the time to help,” says Joanna Gao, the 2020 class president. “I’m excited at the possibility of being a source of support in any way I can.”