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My School of Medicine Columbia

Congratulations Class of 2021

Dean Hall

Les Hall, M.D.


Dear Graduates of the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia,

Many years ago, each one of you made a choice – a choice that you wanted to better prepare yourself to make a difference in this world. You chose to one day join the ranks of health professionals and scientists who are combatting human suffering and finding new cures. You knew the journey to achieve this goal would be long and arduous, yet you were committed! That commitment and all of your hard work is now paying off.

Over the past few years, you have made it through countless hours of lecture, learning labs, small group discussions, simulation sessions, research projects and/or clinical clerkships. You have taken hundreds of tests or quizzes, dreamed of PowerPoint slides, and recharged your laptop at least 1,000 times. You also have discovered mentors who have transformed your thinking and have made lifelong friends among your classmates. 

You have also lived with us through the most unusual year the world has seen in the past century, as society has been turned on its head due to a pandemic. You have adapted how you eat, socialize, study, exercise, and travel. You have wondered at times if you would even be able to complete your education, yet you persevered. As we approach your upcoming graduation in May 2021, we celebrate not only your academic achievements but also your determination and grit. Having made it through the events of the past year, we know that there are no limits to what you will be able accomplish during your career.

We approach Commencement 2021 with great gratitude for your hard work and for the support you have received from family, friends, faculty, and staff. As you prepare to join the workforce or continue your training, we share your expectation that the education you received as a Gamecock has prepared you well to make enduring contributions.

Class of 2021, we offer you our heartiest congratulations.  Well done!

- Les Hall

Dean, School of Medicine Columbia

Frank Spinale

Frank Spinale, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education

“We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.” - Sir William Osler

Despite the remarkable challenges put before you this year, you still contributed to the vibrancy and mission of our medical school.  Your relentless pursuit of understanding the clinical sciences and research to provide us insight into the basis of disease during an unprecedented time is nothing short of remarkable. As you move forward with your careers, you will now forever carry the knowledge that you can do anything and that “too hard” is not in your vocabulary.

So many of you that are about to graduate endured tremendous pressure to achieve the necessary academic milestones and yet still asked the question, “How can I help?” The remarkable selflessness you all demonstrated in terms of reaching out to your fellow classmates as well as our entire community during these challenging times will not be forgotten. We are certain that you all will continue to do great things in terms of care and research focused upon the relief of suffering of our fellow man.

As you are hooded and conferred with an advanced degree, you are now bound forever to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine as we are to you. Let us celebrate that despite all adversity, we have reached this important moment.

- Francis G. Spinale, MD, PhD

Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Education

JT Thornhill

Joshua "J.T." Thornhill, M.D. 

Associate Dean for Medical Education and Academic Affairs 

Dear members of the Class of 2021,

It has been a year that none of us will forget but let us start at the beginning. You showed up in August of 2017 ready to pursue a dream that had been years in the making. You pushed yourselves harder than you thought you could and, in the process, forged life-long friendships that have helped see you through the good times and the bad.

Along the way some of you found your soul mates, there have been weddings and babies, beach parties and lake trips, periods of chaos and moments of quiet reflection. Through it all you never lost sight of your goals and you never gave up.

Which brings me back to this past year, just as you were on the verge of meeting your goals and exploring the possibilities of the future, the worst global crisis in a century hit. With the uncertainty and loss, it could have been the derailment of your hard work and dreams, but it was not.  You not only persevered, but you rose to the challenge. You have shown yourselves to be the caring physicians our state and country needs and literally saved lives with every vaccine you have administered.

So let me end by raising my glass to each of you.  Let’s remember those who supported you and who have been lost along the way, let’s remember the long nights, the inspiring days, and the everlasting friendships, and most importantly let’s honor each of you for the work you have done and will do to improve the lives of our patients.

Congratulations Class of 2021!

- JT Thornhill, MD

Associate Dean for Medical Education and Academic Affairs

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.