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After the successful completion of remote studies, for the first time after the quarantine, live music was playing again in the historic Great Courtyard of Vilnius University (VU) decorated with the most beautiful summer flowers and filled with festive and cheerful emotion. Smiles of happiness were shining in the faces of all the members of the University community, the graduates, their relatives and guests, and their hearts were hotter than the generous summer sun. The exclusive celebration of awarding diplomas to international students of the Faculty of Medicine in 2020 became not only a symbol of sincere gratitude to doctors and faith in the progress of medical science and practice, but also a ray of hope. The diplomas were awarded to 24 masters of Medicine Study Programme and 8 masters of Dentistry Study Programme. All graduates represented different countries of the world.

The event was moderated by the Vice-Dean for Studies of the VU Faculty of Medicine, prof. Vaiva Hendrixson. The Professor sincerely applauded the significant achievements of the graduates and warmly congratulated the participants and guests of the event.

A number of distinguished guests took part in the Ceremony: Dr. John Prunskis (a physician, diplomat, businessman, and professor, Medical Director of Illinois Pain Institute, Clinical Professor of Chicago Medical School,  the Honorary Consul of Lithuania to Aspen, Colorado, USA), Prof. Dirk Naumann zu Grünberg (General Counsel of the German University Foundation), Ms. Karina Krasnicka (Representative of Medi Start), Mr. Dimitar Dimitrov (Representative of StudyMed Agency), Žygimantas Pavilionis (Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania).

Vilnius University Chamber Orchestra (conductor Modestas Jankūnas) helped to maintain the excellent mood of the participants throughout the ceremony, which was also broadcast live. 

Congratulations to the Graduates Were Followed by Long Applause

It is always a great honor and pride for the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University to raise well-prepared professionals who have the broad range of knowledge and skills required to take on the vital role of doctors. Students who met the graduation requirements at the end of a 6-year education process (Medicine Programme) and a 5-year process (Dentistry Programme) were awarded diplomas in a glorious ceremony. Students and their families all shared true feelings of exhilaration and pride.

Opening the Ceremony and congratulating all the participants, the Rector of Vilnius University, Prof. Rimvydas Petrauskas expressed great pleasure, that after the period of pandemic that had devastated the whole world and our country, but was soon to become history, in his opinion, it was finally possible to meet in real life again. "First of all, it is an achievement of the medical community, the community which today's graduates join." The Rector said that the society and the University faced various crises. This crisis has taught a lot of lessons. He thinks, that this year's graduates of the Faculty of Medicine deserve exceptional respect, as the crisis that they have successfully overcome will become a unique experience for them. “I am certain, that your studies at Vilnius University have made you ready to follow a serious professional path and to make long-lasting positive impact on the world. And what is important, you will spread the main message about Vilnius and Vilnius University as a good place to study,” the Rector proudly stated. He invited graduates to stay in touch, to share their international experience and become active ambassadors of the this one of the oldest high schools in Europe.

Taking the stage after the Rector, an honorable guest from the United States, prof. John Prunskis started by congratulating the entire University, the Faculty of Medicine, and all graduates of medicine and dentistry, including his daughter, who is also a graduate of 2020th Medicine study programme. He presented a touching story of the history of his medical family, their experiences, and challenges. “I have never dreamt that I will be standing before you for such a significant Ceremony as this. Seeing you, young doctors, from many countries of the world successfully graduated at Vilnius University, the Faculty of Medicine, brings me, and I am sure those who remember those different, sometimes tragic historical times in Lithuania, tremendous joy,” Dr. John Prunskis said. His special thanks were given to the Dean of the Faculty Algirdas Utkus for the support of international cooperation and to the Vice-Dean of Studies Vaiva Hendrixson for her endless efforts of managing international studies and giving all her love to every international student.

A Representative of MediStart, Prof. Dirk Naumann zu Grünberg from Germany congratulated all participants of the Ceremony on this special occasion. He remembered, how 17 years ago he first came to the Faculty of Medicine with a vision of international exchange. “Now I am standing here and witnessing your great success, dear students! You left your own countries, came to Vilnius to study thousand miles away from your friends and families. To study in an excellent University. Today you will say the Medical Oath and take your professional path! You are real examples of a successful European educational cooperation, the example of the excellence of teaching and forming personalities at Vilnius University,” Mr. Dirk Naumann stated.  

In his congratulating speech, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Algirdas Utkus expressed the real pride and happiness of having such talented and hard-working group of international students from all over the world. He thanked for specifically choosing Vilnius University, a classical high school with 441 years of academic traditions and the widest range of study programmes. This ALMA MATER has preserved cultural and scientific traditions, has outstanding professors and students and plays a significant role in the cultural life not only in Lithuania, but also in Europe.

“What is waiting for you now will be much harder. No matter how difficult it seemed, no real patient was ever harmed during the exams. But the real life of a doctor is also the "life of his patients." You will live with them through their pain, you will walk them out of a hospital or clinic after they have recovered, but you will also face moments of disappointment because medicine is not omnipotent. The profession of a doctor, researcher, or tutor is beautiful. It is extremely important to never ever forget about the Hippocrates’s oath,“ the Professor said. He was hopeful that the international graduates will never forget the fun times spent with their new best friends in the uniquely spectacular country of Lithuania. “The Little Prince of Saint-Exupery said very nice words: “Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye, stated prof. Algirdas Utkus.” So, I strongly believe, that your hearts are devoted to health and love and that they will always see the noble mission which you will serve.

IMG 9913Jule Sibylle Schönewolf, 2020

The Most Beautiful Words Devoted to Beloved ALMA MATER, Teachers, Relatives and Friends

The sincere congratulations from the graduates, their warm-hearted speeches, full of respect and gratitude undoubtedly became the sensual highlight of the graduation ceremony. The memories and future plans of masters created a special mood of one of the most wonderful celebrations of their life and in the history of Vilnius University.

Speeches of the graduates were started by Jule Sibylle Schönewolf, a Master of the Dentistry study programme. She remembered her coming to Vilnius in 2015. On one of her first practical tasks her tutor checked if she was using her dentistry instruments properly. “Next time when I used my instruments, I asked my Professor: Is everything good? And she replied: Yes, but I want you to do everything even better.”  In Jule’s opinion, this is the main idea that describes Vilnius University: it tries to teach you to always be better.

Benjamin Juri, a graduate of Medical SP, on behalf of all international graduates expressed a lot of thanks to Vilnius University, to the academic and non-academic staff of the Faculty of Medicine for the constant help and the best memories of the studies and an interesting student life: “6 years ago I was asked: Why are you studying here? And I answered: I do not know, yet. And now I am standing here, before you and sharing my honor and gratitude of being a graduate of Vilnius University. I feel really proud.” Now he believes, that the knowledge and practical skills students gained at Vilnius University will make a solid foundation for the future profession and entire life of everyone.

At the end of the ceremony the floor was given to Kristin Prunskis, a graduate of the Medicine Study Programme. She thanked for this great opportunity to study here, for the patience of tutors, for the help of the International Office of the University, for the support of the Dean, Algirdas Utkus, for the Number One Supporter Vaiva Hendrixson. She also dedicated a lot of thanks to all coordinators of the international studies in the Study Department of the Faculty of Medicine. “During the last 6 years those young people, physicians, sitting here in front of me became my real family. I think we all agree, that before coming here we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We came here without knowing anybody. Knowing nothing about language or culture of Lithuania. Even without knowing what “cepelinas” is. But then we all took care of each other to the very end and we succeeded,” Kristin shared her dearest memories.

Upon receiving their diplomas, the graduates took the Hippocratic Oath and sang Gaudeamus anthem together, experiencing huge joy and pride of forever becoming a part of the Alumnus Network – a part of a great family of their beloved ALMA MATER, the way from which leads to the stars.    

All photos on Facebook coming soon!

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