Jun 25, 2024

U of T MD 50th Reunion: Celebrating lifelong bonds

Alumni, Giving
U of T MD Class of 1974
By Heather McCall

While the University of Toronto’s Alumni Reunion brings together many Temerty Medicine alumni, commemorating the 50th anniversary of graduation from the MD Program is a golden opportunity not to be missed.

This was the sentiment among classmates from the MD Class of 1974 who attended a special, 50-year milestone reception and dinner in late-May.

The event was organized by Barry Goldlist with support from Carolyn Bennett, Leslie Mandel and the Temerty Medicine Alumni Relations team.

Gathered on the Faculty Club’s patio, an incredible 100 alumni attended and shared life updates and family photos and reminisced about time spent together during one of the most formative periods of their lives.

Classmates from U of T MD Class of 1974
(clockwise from left) Fred Hoy, Moshe Izsak, Beate Huber, Jackie Duffin

Some had traveled great distances for the event, including Beate Huber, who resides in Germany, and Fred Hoy who now lives in central Illinois. They, along with classmates Moshe Izsak and Jackie Duffin, had been assigned to the same cadaver during the second year of the program. They waved one another over and assembled for a quick photo.

“You really get to know one another when you’re all hunched over the same cadaver,” says Hoy.

Reet Marley Vanaselja recalled how at her 1974 graduation, an alumna from the class of 1924 gave her a special ring. That woman had received it upon her graduation 50 years earlier and wanted to pass it along to a member of the next generation. On it are a skull and crossbones with “2T4 Meds” etched below — a moniker that also belongs to this year’s graduating class of 2024.

U of T MD Class of 1924 ring
Reet Marley Vanaselja displays an MD graduation ring from 1924

Marley Vanaselja hopes it could be passed on to a 2024 grad, just like it had been passed on to her, or donated to U of T Archives.

Serving as emcee during the dinner, Goldlist expressed his gratitude to everyone for attending and reinforced the importance of celebrating milestones as we age, noting real-life experience from his ongoing work as a geriatrician.

After welcome remarks from Cody Copeman Hubert, Temerty Medicine’s director, alumni relations and special events, Goldlist asked his former mentee Mireille Norris (PGME Geriatric Medicine ’99), an assistant professor of medicine at U of T and faculty lead for Black and Indigenous medical students, to address the guests.

“The best thing you can expect is for one of your students to exceed you, and Mireille is a wonderful example of that,” he says.

Norris spoke about the evolution of equity, diversity and inclusion at Temerty Medicine from her time as a resident until now. She also acknowledged the role Goldlist and others at the Faculty played in championing women’s rights at a time when such advocacy was rare.

Following Norris, Denise Bowes led a moving memorial tribute recognizing deceased class members.

The final speaker of the evening was second-year MD student Jane Jomy, who gave everyone an inside look at life for today’s medical school students. From a less advantaged socioeconomic background than many of her peers, Jomy was the first in her family to go to university. In her first year of medical school, she had a part-time job in Hamilton requiring her to commute for hours on her day off — leaving little time for studying. But everything changed once she received financial assistance through a bursary established by alumni.

“It was like night and day — I enjoyed what I was learning, and I had the time to appreciate how fortunate I was to be learning medicine,” says Jomy.

She thanked the class for setting up their own bursary fund and for their donations thus far, which will help MD students with financial need.

“I hear from students every day on how difficult it is to complete their medical education and training while also managing the high cost of living in Toronto,” says Goldlist. “It would be a shame if anyone didn’t pursue a career in medicine just because it wasn’t affordable.”

Before everyone parted ways, classmates gathered for a final group photo on the Faculty Club terrace and continued reminiscing. Duffin stood front and centre holding a copy of the class’s composite photo from their 1974 graduation — helping to create a lasting memory of their past and present time together.