Star power! It was evident on November 1, on a beautiful evening and in a beautiful setting. We had assembled at the Rockledge home of Drs. Kevin and Nancy Dye for a community welcome reception for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Class of 2015. There we gathered, on the side of Mill Mountain, in glittering company and beneath not only a canopy of stars but Roanoke’s own five-ton lighted star, proving that star power is indeed plentiful in Star City.
It seems like yesterday that the School opened its doors to our charter Class of 2014. They were members of the first class of a brand-new medical school, so it’s not surprising that their arrival was richly celebrated. But I am particularly appreciative of the Roanoke community’s ongoing support of the school and its second, equally bright and interesting, group of students.
Many of our local stars—civic leaders and physicians alike—had a hand in hosting the event. In addition to the generosity of our hosts, we appreciated the support of Mark and Cynthia Lawrence, Dr. and Mrs. Julien Meyer, Dr. Randall Rhea, Dr. and Mrs. Mark Watts, Drs. Joelle Miller and Bob Slackman, and Spilman, Thomas and Battle, PLLC.
Medicine is an art as well as a science, so it was only fitting that David Stewart Wiley, the music director and conductor of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, was there to treat us all to a brief piano performance. He chose George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, he told us, to complement the setting of Roanoke, a town built on the railroad. For it was a train ride from New York to Boston that inspired the piece. “It was on a train,” Gershwin explained, “with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer—I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise.”
Many of our students, Roanoke’s newest stars, took a moment to express how much they appreciated the event—the camaraderie, the music, the spectacular fall setting, the delectable seafood and pumpkin tarts. I truly think the stars in the sky were shining brightly that night just for us.
Cynda Johnson, MD, MBA, is the founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.