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Riverhead’s future medical professionals recognized

A white coat ceremony is a matriculation ritual that involves medical professionals placing lab coats onto new medical students to signify a student’s career transition. 

Riverhead High Schoolers had their own white coat ceremony Tuesday at a school board meeting as Stony Brook University clinical lecturer Erik Flynn and district officials recognized students who participated in Stony Brook University’s Health Careers Academic Readiness and Excellence program last summer.

Approximately 12 students were presented with a white lab coat and a certificate of recognition. Students recited an oath which encouraged them to continuously improve their skills in the medical field.

“It means that we now expect good things from you,” Mr. Flynn said. “Good things start when you walk in the door. We want to send you off knowing how much we appreciate the work you did.”

The two-week-long HCARE program, brought to Riverhead in 2018, offers students the opportunity to learn more about health fields. The students heard from researchers, scientists and professionals in the healthcare industry and learned about the college application process, time and stress management, team building, study habits and community service.

HCARE was founded by Carlos Vidal, former Interim Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Health Technology and Management, who died in March 2019. Riverhead School Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez said the program continues in his honor. She thanked Mr. Flynn for the difference he makes “in the lives of our students.” Mr. Flynn also helped craft a summer program catered to English Language Learners in the district, where students studied the relationship between earthworms and soybeans.

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