We’re about five weeks away from Spring 2024 Commencement, where the Graduate Medical Sciences community will come together to celebrate this year’s graduating students.

With the date fast approaching, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the four students selected to speak at this year’s GMS Commencement exercises.

Three students were chosen to speak at the Master’s Ceremony, and one student was chosen to represent GMS at the MD & PhD Ceremony. All speakers were nominated by their programs, and finalists were selected by a committee of GMS representatives.

Meet each speaker below:

Master of Science in Anatomy & Neurobiology – Vesalius Program

Originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Aris moved to the Boston area to matriculate into the GMS Master of Science in Anatomy & Neurobiology, Vesalius Program, in 2022.

At GMS, Aris sat on the Executive Board of the Graduate Medical Sciences Student Organization (GMSSO), first as treasurer from 2022 to 2023, and then as vice president from 2023 to 2024. As an Executive Board member, Aris was directly involved in planning volunteer events at the Boston Food Bank, as well as social events for students on campus.

Aris currently serves as a volunteer for the Boston Medical Center pediatrics unit, where he helps children find comfort during their stay in the hospital.

Some of his best memories from his time in GMS revolve around the community.

“Everyone, especially the professors and staff, were so welcoming and easy to talk to,” he said.

Following Commencement, Aris will move back to Texas to continue researching the application of machine learning algorithms to enhance the diagnostic accuracy of brain MRIs in early-stage neurodegenerative diseases. He also plans to apply to medical school.

If Aris were to give one piece of advice to other GMS students, it would be to remember to take time for yourself and to spend time in the community outside of studying and academics.

“Don’t get me wrong, studying is important, but you should also join clubs, volunteer and engage in the community,” Aris said. “Boston University has so much to offer, not just intellectually, but socially and culturally as well.”

Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MAMS) Program

Brent grew up in Toronto, Ontario. In 2022, he came to Boston – and the United States – for the first time to matriculate into the MAMS program.

As a MAMS student, Brent has had the opportunity to research pediatric chronic pain. Specifically, he is investigating how stress can amplify neural pathways, resulting in a heightened sensitivity and perception of pain.

His pediatric chronic pain research also studies “pain catastrophizing,” which is the tendency to describe a pain experience in more exaggerated terms.

Brent’s favorite part about his time at BU was the collaborative environment and “we’re all in this together” mentality he shared with his cohort.

“It made me feel more comfortable and included,” Brent said. “Even though I’ve only known my classmates for around a year, I feel like I’ve been able to develop close relationships in a short period of time.”

After Commencement, Brent plans to spend time in Canada with his friends and family. He also wants to travel and explore more of the U.S. before beginning medical school in the fall.

One piece of advice Brent has for his fellow GMS students? Don’t miss out on Chequers’ buffalo mac-and-cheese for lunch on Fridays.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Ellie matriculated into the Physician Assistant Master’s Program in 2022. Since then, she has valued the opportunity to learn from world-class providers, researchers and pathologists during her time at GMS.

“The BU community has been an extraordinary place to build lasting friendships, learn from incredible leaders in their fields, and to grow as a clinician and person,” Ellie said, “[…] I have been humbled by others’ accomplishments while simultaneously being challenged to be the best that I can be.”

For Ellie, these friendships and relationships have been what sustained her through the highs and lows of studying and clinical rotations in the PA program.

“Each student in our program and faculty member cares deeply about our success, our personal growth and our wellbeing,” she said.

After Commencement, Ellie plans to enjoy life in the Boston area, applying for jobs across several specialties and continuing to build strong relationships with her community and her church alongside her husband.

Ellie advises GMS students to never stop being “a sponge, a lifelong learner, and an avid question asker,” learning from everyone they encounter in their programs. She also reiterated the importance of a service-oriented approach to a career in health care.

“I believe that in pursuing a career in the medical field, we are called daily to pursue humility and an orientation toward serving others,” Ellie said. “I love this [Martin Luther King, Jr.] quote: ‘Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’” 

PhD in Virology, Immunology & Microbiology; Program in Biomedical Sciences

Josiane grew up in Dakar, Senegal, and moved to the United States in 2010. She has been living in Boston ever since.

In 2018, Josiane matriculated into the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS), and subsequently joined the Department of Virology, Immunology and Microbiology (VIM).

In the Gummuluru Lab, Josiane’s dissertation research involved using antiretroviral-loaded nanoparticles to target tissue sites of HIV persistence.

Thinking back on her time in GMS, it is the relationships she has built and the lessons she has learned that she values the most.

“I cherish deeply the lifelong friendships forged through BU,” Josiane said. “I am also thankful for the personal growth I’ve experienced, shaped by numerous challenges encountered along the way.”

Following Commencement, Josiane plans to continue her research in the Gummuluru Lab to publish her next manuscript prior to searching for new opportunities.

Josiane’s advice to GMS students is to “always keep your eyes on the finish line and embrace the journey, both its highs and lows.”

“It might get very dark along the way, but light will eventually emerge, and you will thrive.”

Congratulations to our Commencement speakers! We look forward to seeing them, and all our graduates, take the stage in just a few weeks.

The 2024 Commencement exercises will take place on Thursday, May 16 at the BU Track & Tennis Center, located on the Charles River Campus at 100 Ashford Street.

The Master’s Convocation Ceremony is first at 10 a.m., and the MD & PhD Convocation Ceremony is next at 3 p.m.

For more information, click here.