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Future doctors step into white coats at University of Toledo

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    Vinaya Gogineni of Dayton is cloaked by Senior Associate Dean Dr. James Kleshinski during the University of Toledo’s White Coat Ceremony in Nitschke Hall Auditorium. The annual ceremony, conducted by the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, recognizes first-year medical students at the former Medical College of Ohio.

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    Students recite the medical student pledge of ethics during the University of Toledo’s White Coat Ceremony.

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For Yvette Aniagolu, watching her daughter Nkiruka stride across the stage to don her white coat marked the end of one journey as long as it was unlikely — and the beginning of another.

Born and raised on the Virgin Islands, Mrs. Aniagolu, 56, met her husband, Emeka, a West African immigrant from Nigeria, while attaining her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. The couple moved to Columbus and had their second child — Ms. Aniagolu — who went on to earn an undergraduate degree at Emory University.

GALLERY: First-year doctors receive white coats at UT

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Vinaya Gogineni of Dayton is cloaked by Senior Associate Dean Dr. James Kleshinski during the University of Toledo’s White Coat Ceremony in Nitschke Hall Auditorium. The annual ceremony, conducted by the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, recognizes first-year medical students at the former Medical College of Ohio.

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From there, Ms. Aniagolu, 24, headed to the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, among only 4 percent of more than 4,100 applicants accepted to the class of 2021.

On Thursday, Mr. and Mrs. Aniagolu watched their daughter with pride during the college’s White Coat Ceremony at the Nitschke Hall Auditorium.

“I’m just so proud,” Mrs. Aniagolu said. “[It’s] all positive things today.”

Thursday’s ceremony honored 175 first-year medical students, who each received a white lab coat.

“The white coat ceremony is a symbolic one to emphasize that you are entering what is arguably the noblest of professions,” Assistant Dean for Students Affairs Randall Worth said during the event. “The white coat symbolizes the compassion that your future patients will expect of you.”

Students on Thursday were each called to the stage to be cloaked while family and friends clapped and snapped photographs. The coats came with two lapel pins: one featuring a stethoscope in the shape of a heart donated by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, named after the ceremony’s original creator, and another imprinted with the words “honesty, integrity, and professionalism” from the Medical Student Honor Coat Committee.

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Dr. Michael McCrea, who offered the ceremony’s alumni welcome, joked about being the only administrative figure dressed in a literal white coat. When everyone stood to recite the medical student pledge of ethics, Ibtissam Gad, leader of the recitation, elicited laughter by clarifying “just the students, thank you.”

The pledge recalled the gravity of the occasion: “I publicly acknowledge and respect the privileges and responsibilities given to me today as a physician in training. Knowing my own limitations and those of medicine, I commit myself to a lifelong journey of learning how to cure, relieve, and comfort with humanity and compassion. I make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon my honor.”

Medical student Robert Ariss, 21, was born and raised in Toledo. He completed his primary, secondary, and undergraduate education in the city and saw his medical school career as “finally” his chance to help the community that helped him.

“Having that opportunity to really give back to our community both locally while we’re in school and after we graduate is priceless,” he said.

Contact Ahmed Elbenni at aelbenni@theblade.com or 419-724-6194.

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