"I felt incredibly privileged to be asked," Cole-Dai said. "I’ve been interested in how music can help the healing process, and I was excited to have the opportunity to write a piece of music to help send fledgling doctors on their way. It felt very organic."

Cole-Dai drew inspiration for her composition from the poetry of Jerome Freeman, M.D., chair of the medical school’s department of neurosciences. The composition, “Starting from Here,” shares its name with a book of Freeman’s poetry. The musical piece ranges from contemplative to lyrical to jazzy. “I tried to connect with the emotions that these new students might be feeling,” Cole-Dai said, “from a little anxiety about what lies ahead to a lot of gratitude toward everyone who helped them along the way.”

John Thomas, PhD, medical school professor emeritus, will perform the piano piece. The White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2012 is the culmination of three days of orientation for the 54 students entering medical school this fall. All medical students spend their first two years in Vermillion taking classes in biomedical sciences. They then transfer to Sioux Falls, Rapid City or Yankton for two years of clinical training.

The ceremony is Friday at 2:45 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, which is across the street from the medical school administration building.

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