National expert on healthcare equity to medicine graduates: What solutions will you create?

Quinnipiac conferred degrees to 96 graduates of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine

May 12, 2023

Three graduates stand arm in arm and smile for a photo

Malika Fair, MD, MHP, encouraged the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine Class of 2023 to utilize the lessons learned during the pandemic to stay focused on creating solutions to eliminate inequities in healthcare that continue to persist. 

Malika Fair stands at a podium in front of dozens of medicine graduates
Malika Fair, MD, senior director of health equity partnerships and programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges, delivered the keynote address.

“You are the last graduating medical school class to enter medical school unaware of the impending global COVID-19 pandemic…Research has shown a connection between the experience of adversity and creative thinking, the ability to see the world in a different way,” said Dr. Fair, senior director of equity and social accountability for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“What came as a surprise to your class can ultimately be a gift to help you envision solutions to the most complex problems with your patients, in your health system and in our nation and world,” she added.

Dr. Fair’s work with the AAMC assists the academic medicine community in becoming anti-racist leaders who acknowledge and understand systemic racial inequities and cultivate evidence-based practices that promote racial justice and equity.

“I am fully confident that the bright and resilient students in this room today have the potential to find the next cure for cancer, develop artificial intelligence algorithms to improve the efficiency as well as the diagnostic capability of our health systems, implement innovative solutions to eliminate our nation’s health inequities and likely something else that we can’t even imagine today,” said Dr. Fair.

Drawing on personal experiences and milestones from her own career, Dr. Fair implored the graduates to engage in three practices as physicians focused on answering the call to live a life of service and healing.

“Take care of yourself, surround yourself with people who are solutions focused and listen to the voice inside you,” said Dr. Fair. “I don’t need to wish you good luck. You already have what it takes to create amazing solutions to change health and healthcare as we know it. But just in case you forget, the families, friends, faculty and staff will remember to ask your new question throughout your career: What solutions will you create?”

Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs Khalilah Brown-Dean officially opened the ceremony by welcoming the graduates and their guests on behalf of Quinnipiac before Anoush Calikyan ’23 sang the national anthem.

During her address, President Judy Olian highlighted the Class of 2023 accomplishments including the March Match Day ceremony where graduates matched in residencies in 24 states, with 13 in Connecticut. The Class of 2023 also matched in 16 different specialties and subspecialties, including the program’s first placement in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She noted that two-thirds of the graduates are women, and overall, nearly 1-in-5 are underrepresented in medicine.

“As a QU Netter graduate you possess uniquely humanistic values. Here, you are immersed in a collaborative and interprofessional model that positions you to offer holistic care with compassion and keen attention to a patient’s physical, mental and emotional needs,” said Olian. “As physicians, you will touch lives in profound and transformative ways. You will identify problems, and solutions, that others often do not see. And you will find and feel the humanity in illness, not just for the patient, but for those they love, and who love them.”

As he reflected on the Class of 2023 and their academic journey together, Phillip Boiselle, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, encouraged the graduates to fulfill the school’s vision for “a brighter and more equitable healthcare future for all – one brushstroke and one patient at a time.”

He reminded the graduates that no matter where their future path may lead, they will always be a part of the QU Netter family.

“As members of our seventh graduating class, you have faced unprecedented challenges amid the pandemic with an admirable combination of grace and grit,” said Dr. Boiselle. “During the last three years you were in medical school, the world has changed dramatically. The pandemic exposed and exacerbated longstanding health disparities, while testing the resilience of our healthcare systems and providers like never before. You are graduating at a watershed moment of opportunity for greater health equity and are poised to lead these efforts in the communities in which you serve.”

Senior Associate Dean for Education Lyuba Konopasek, MD, led the graduates in the recital of the QU Netter Physician’s Pledge before Whitney L’nicole Nichols, MD ’23, took the podium and delivered the student remarks for the Class of 2023. During her address, she recalled the past four years and the challenges and triumphs the class experienced together during their path to becoming physicians.

“We created new programs to engage and help each other. We participated in vaccine clinics, and we learned to create masks. And in between… we decided to do research on how to identify COVID-19,” said Dr. Nichols. “Despite being confined to our four walls of where we lived, we redefined what resilient meant. We found new ways to engage, and we refused to quit. And on Match Day, we showed proof that this class redefined ‘impossible.’”

Alumni Association Board President Jeanna Doherty ’94 closed the ceremony by asking the graduates to move their tassels to the left and officially join the more than 60,000 Quinnipiac alumni worldwide.

“I invite you to move your tassel to the left of your cap,” said Doherty. “This simple act signifies your transition from student to alumnus, and the continuation of your unique, meaningful and lifelong relationship with Quinnipiac. I’m especially pleased to have you all as fellow alumni. You are a Bobcat for Life.”

Ceremony Recording

graduates turn to smile and wave at their audience

Medicine Ceremony

Watch the recording of the School of Medicine Commencement.

Friday, May 12, 5 p.m.

Download the program (PDF)

Order of Exercises

Trumpet Prelude and Processional

Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar

Call to Commencement

Phillip M. Boiselle, MD
Dean of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine

National Anthem

Anoush Calikyan, MD ‘23


Judy D. Olian, PhD

Dean’s Remarks

Phillip M. Boiselle, MD

Introduction of Commencement Speaker

Lyuba Konopasek, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Commencement Address

Malika Fair, MD
Senior Director of Health Equity Partnerships and Programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges

Presentation of Candidates for Medical Degrees and Conferral of Hoods

Phillip M. Boiselle

Renu Boatright, MD
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Conferral of Degrees

Judy D. Olian

Student Remarks

Whitney L’nicole Nichols, MD ’23

QU Netter Physician’s Pledge

Lyuba Konopasek

Alumni Welcome

Jeanna Doherty ’94
Chair, Alumni Association Board


Amor Vittorioso | G. Gastoldi
March | A. Valenti

Malika Fair, MD, MPH

Malika Fair stands at a podium in front of dozens of medicine graduates

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine Ceremony | Friday, May 12, 5 p.m.

Malika Fair, MD, MPH, is the senior director of equity and social accountability at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In this role, Dr. Fair develops programs and initiatives with multidisciplinary partners and local communities to advance equity, racial justice, population health and accountability in academic medicine. Her work assists the academic medicine community in becoming anti-racist leaders who acknowledge and understand systemic racial inequities and cultivate evidence-based policies and practices that promote racial justice and equity in our communities, education and research institutions, and healthcare systems. She is also an associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Fair completed her residency training and chief residency at Carolinas Medical Center, received her medical and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Michigan, and her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Story, Photos and Ceremony Recording

A Message from the President

President Judy Olian

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 as you celebrate the culmination of four years of hard work and a steadfast commitment to your dream. As you embark on residencies in 24 states and 16 different specialties and subspecialties, you are well prepared to be leaders in your community and to practice truly compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

As graduates of Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, you have learned from a distinguished faculty and a committed staff. You also have learned valuable lessons from each other during this transformative time. Please stay connected to the QU Netter community and continue to enjoy the many friendships and mentorships you have nurtured here.

Your talent, drive and purpose are sure to impact many and to make the world a better and more equitable place for all. Enjoy this day with your families, friends and others who have helped you reach this milestone. Together, we are cheering for you, with utmost pride.

Judy D. Olian

A Message from Dean Boiselle

Phil Boiselle

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 on your remarkable achievement!

As members of the seventh graduating class of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, you have faced unprecedented challenges amid the pandemic with an admirable combination of grace and grit. Throughout these challenges, you have kept your focus on caring for the needs of our patients, our community and one another.

You are graduating at a watershed moment of opportunity for greater health equity and are poised to help lead these efforts in the communities in which you serve.

As part of a new generation of physicians, you are beacons of light, beacons of hope and beacons of healing to a world that desperately needs doctors like you: diverse, compassionate, equity-minded and patient-centered. And, as you go forth as doctors, you will help fulfill our school’s vision of painting a brighter healthcare future for all — one brushstroke and one patient at a time.

As members of the QU Netter family, I encourage you to stay connected with us. Please share news of your successes and allow us to support you on your respective journeys.

Good luck and Godspeed!

Phillip Boiselle, MD

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine Physician’s Pledge


  • I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to dedicate my life to the service of humanity;

  • THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;

  • I WILL RESPECT the autonomy and dignity of my patient;

  • I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;

  • I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

  • I WILL ADVOCATE for social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to the well-being of my patients and the communities I serve;

  • I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;

  • I WILL PRACTICE my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice;

  • I WILL FOSTER the honor and noble traditions of the medical profession;

  • I WILL GIVE to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due;

  • I WILL SHARE my medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of healthcare;

  • I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard;

  • I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;

  • I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely, and upon my honor.

Adapted from the WMA Declaration of Geneva Updated October 2017 (The Physician’s Pledge) and the AMA Declaration of Professional Responsibility

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony

The 12th and 13th centuries saw the formation of universities under the jurisdiction of the Church. Most students of the day were clerks in the Holy Order, monks or priests. Cowls or hoods adorned their habits and protected the young scholars from harsh weather and the pervading dampness of the stone buildings in which they studied. Hoods also served to cover tonsured heads before the use of the skullcap.

Today, the cap, gown and hood have taken on a symbolic meaning. Color and shape conform to an academic code signifying a university’s conferral of the degree and the nature of the degree conferred. Gowns for the doctoral degree carry velvet panels and three horizontal velvet bars on the upper arm of the full, round, bell-shaped sleeves.

Mace and Medallion

The mace — a symbol of authority — has antecedents in both Roman and Medieval history. The Roman mace (fasces) was carried by a lictor before the chief magistrate of the city, as well as before the legions. During the Middle Ages, the mace (mateola), a weapon of war, became first a symbol of victory and then a symbol of authority. The mace emblazoned with the Great Seal of England became a symbol of authority in Parliament by the end of the 13th century. It is this form of the mace that was the prototype of those symbols of authority, not only of legislative bodies, but also of cities and universities.

In 1246, following some 20 years of strife, the University of Paris was finally conceded the right to its own common seal. Since then, the use of the seal engraved on the mace has come to symbolize the authority of the academic community. In July 2000, Quinnipiac commissioned the noted sculptor Robert Meyer of Westport, Connecticut, to design and execute a new mace for Quinnipiac University. Cast in bronze, the mace incorporates elements of the university seal.

The medallion (medal of office), like the mace and the seal, is also a symbol of authority. It is possible that its roots may be traced back to the Roman “bulla” (a gold amulet of honor). The obverse of the medallion shows the seal of the office the wearer holds — in our case, the seal of the university. Not infrequently, the reverse would show the personal seal or coat of arms of the bearer. Since the High Middle Ages, the medallion has been worn by such officials as the chancellors of England, mayors of cities, and rectors of universities, and came to signify the high personal position such figures occupied in their respective governments. During the Renaissance, medallion design reached unique artistic heights, and in certain portraits the medallion was given particular prominence. The medallion is worn by the university’s president. The Quinnipiac medal showcases the university seal, sculpted in relief and cast in bronze.

Download the program (PDF)

Quinnipiac University conferred 3,141 degrees during six Commencement ceremonies May 12-14 at the M&T Bank Arena and the Mount Carmel Campus.

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