After an "anticlimactic" virtual goodbye, Dell Medical School's inaugural class heads to the front lines of the pandemic

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Ariane Lemieux recently graduated from Dell Medical School while also earning an MBA from McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. She will soon begin work at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson

“Am I muted? Can y’all hear me?”

That’s what 49 graduating medical students and more than 600 family, friends and faculty heard as Dr. Susan Cox, executive vice dean of academics, kicked off the live portion of Dell Medical School’s YouTube commencement ceremony on Thursday.

What followed was a seven-minute cacophony as the graduates stumbled through the Hippocratic oath and promised to “do no harm” in unison, thwarted by Zoom lags, frozen screens and students breaking into laughter.

For the past two months, the fourth-year students at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School have watched from the sidelines with horror as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed and the disease claimed nearly 100,000 lives nationwide, spotlighting the heroism and dangers of being a frontline health care worker.

On Thursday evening, they graduated — the first cohort to do so since the school opened in 2016 — and officially entered the fray. Over the next month, the inaugural class will scatter across the country to begin their residencies in the thick of a global pandemic.

Some students said they are anxious to get to work treating coronavirus patients.

“It's been tough to hear my forebears and all of the emergency medicine physicians really going through a lot of trials with the pandemic and not being able to do anything about it — at least not being able to do anything about it in the emergency room,” Dell graduate Leonard Edwards, 34, said.