Casey deDeugd added two titles to her name on Friday – M.D. and United States Air Force Captain — as she graduated in the second class of UCF College of Medicine-trained physicians.
Minutes after receiving her diploma, she replaced her robe with her military uniform and was sworn in by associate professor Dr. Jose Borrero, himself an Air Force veteran. As she left the stage, Casey received a salute from junior medical school officers.
“It means so much,” she said of the military honor incorporated into commencement. “When I came to the steps and saw them saluting, it was the first time I teared up at graduation. I was so proud.”
DeDeugd is the first graduate of the medical school’s Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), where students serve a year of active military service in exchange for each year of full scholarship funding. The College of Medicine has students in all branches of the military – Army, Navy and Air Force — and many of the officers are women.
Dr. Borrero will retire from teaching this month and said giving Casey her captain’s bars was “a deserving recognition for her and an honor for me.” A former flight surgeon, Dr. Borrero was on stage as Casey processed into the Venue with other graduates for commencement. “I looked down and saw her walk in,” he said. “She looked straight, she looked sharp. That’s the way it should be.”
During her orthopedics rotation last summer, Casey worked at the Center for the Intrepid at San Antonio Military Medical Center, a research and treatment facility for war veterans with limb amputations. In June, she begins her residency training in orthopedic surgery at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She’ll complete her military service after that.
“The military values hard work and being disciplined and those are values I’ve tried to emulate since I was a child,” she said after graduation. “Today I was double excited to graduate with my M.D. degree and celebrate that with my military family.”
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