UTMB grads make it despite hardship

May 30, 2009 7:18:55 PM PDT
Hurricane Ike turned thousands of lives upside down and now some students at UTMB who made it through the hardships have finally made it to their goal -- graduation day. Many were displaced by the storm. Students who graduated from UTMB Saturday claim they are the only class here to ever face two hurricanes. They evacuated the island twice, once for Hurricane Rita and then for Hurricane Ike, and they all say they are all stronger from that experience.

It was an untraditional ending to a rather untraditional school year. But, UTMB's class of '09 chose to cap their graduation ceremony with an ode to their most memorable shared experience -- Hurricane Ike.

"It blowed away, it blowed away," sang the graduating class.

"Music is a good way to cope with a situation. I think that's the root of all music, is trying to deal with hardship in your life," said graduate Dr. John Rey.

Ike created plenty of hardship for this class of 204 students. Flooding shut down the hospital for several weeks and displaced nearly 95 percent of them.

Dr. Kristopher Hooten spent three months working in temple to complete graduation requirements. In a speech to his classmates, he shared the advice he got from his father who passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease.

"To remember the purpose for becoming a doctor and that purpose will carry you through life," said Dr. Hooten.

Dr. Hooten now says he will dedicate his life to searching for a cure to Lou Gehrig's disease and Dr. John Rey says he will leave here a more compassionate doctor.

"It's not about having a roof over your head,' he said. "It's about having support and having people who are caring for you."

It's a lesson these graduates can look back on for years to come.

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