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East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine recognized the 89 incoming medical students in the Class of 2025 during a White Coat Ceremony on Friday, July 30.

Dr. Michael Waldrum shakes hands with an incoming Brody School of Medicine student during the 2021 White Coat Ceremony

The ceremony signified each student’s entrance into the medical profession and the beginning of their commitment to serve others. While they will take classes at the Brody School of Medicine, each student will gain crucial experience at ECU Health Medical Center and throughout the Vidant Health system.

Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine, served as keynote speaker for the event.

“A white coat is a symbol of being a physician, part of a unique and special profession,” Dr. Waldrum said. “It’s unique in its caring and helping when people and communities need it most. It’s about human relationship and understanding each other. It’s about constant learning and striving. We’ll never stop dealing with the issues – that’s what this profession is about.”

This incoming class is the first that Dr. Waldrum will oversee as dean of the Brody School of Medicine after taking on the position at the beginning of July. The Class of 2025 will experience ECU and Vidant’s clinical integration as both aim to better serve eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Waldrum said this is a critical step to address the challenges we face here in the East.

“This is a special time for me as a young dean – young in my tenure – because of the profound responsibility that I have as we integrate the Vidant Health system and the Brody School of Medicine and build on the foundation that has been created,” Dr. Waldrum said. “I’m excited to strengthen our communities and deal with the disparities and the issues we are faced with as rural North Carolina and rural America.”

Dr. Michael Waldrum high-fives an incoming Brody School of Medicine student during the 2021 White Coat Ceremony

Photos Courtesy of ECU News Services

The class is set up for success with varied experiences, the hunger to learn and a health system a school of medicine ready to support each student.

The 89 students include 45 students that graduated with honors, five collegiate athletes, two veterans and five who had parents that graduated from Brody. Dr. Cedric Bright, associate dean for admissions at Brody School of Medicine, said 14 percent of the class are first-generation college graduates and 44 percent of the class are re-applicants to the program – a testament to the resiliency of the class.

“You all have incredible stories, about caring, about bringing what North Carolina has in diversity, experience, pursuit of knowledge – all of these to make North Carolina better,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Those are the stories I’ve heard and that’s the story of the Brody School of Medicine. Those diverse perspectives in life coming together to learn and grow is how we collaborate to solve systemic issues that plague our communities and it’s our responsibility to do so.”

There were more than 1,200 applicants for the Class of 2025 – a record number for the Brody School of Medicine. Dr. Waldrum said it was not surprising as he believes young people were energized during the COVID-19 pandemic to help people in need of health care.

Dr. Waldrum said the Brody School of Medicine is crucial in producing what North Carolina needs from physicians.

“Brody School of Medicine has been so important in moving eastern North Carolina forward and serving the state and rural populations,” Dr. Waldrum said. “I’ve said it a million times – Brody is the highest value medical school in the country because, if you look at the investment by the state to have a physician stay in the state and practice in rural and underserved communities, there’s nobody in the nation that does it better than Brody.”