The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will graduate 40 students during its fourth commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6. The event will be held at 9 a.m. at the Jefferson Center at 541 Luck Avenue in Roanoke. A reception will follow at the school, located at 2 Riverside Circle.

The graduation speaker will be Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. Wakefield was appointed in March 2015 by President Barack Obama to serve as the Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As a senior government official, she was responsible for overseeing management and operations of HHS, a department with a $1 trillion budget and 80,000 employees. In addition, she led strategic department-wide initiatives in key health policy areas, with a particular focus on programs for vulnerable populations.

Wakefield frequently represented the United States in global health meetings focused on shared challenges, ranging from substance addiction and HIV AIDS to delivery system reform and ensuring access to health care services.

She has a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and master's and doctoral degrees in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin. She also completed the Harvard University School of Government’s Program for Senior Managers in Government.

The event will also feature two students, Kevin McGurk and Chris McLaughlin, who were voted upon by their classmates to speak at graduation; Chris Vieau, an alumnus from the school’s charter class; and John C. Perkins, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, who was selected by the graduating class to speak on behalf of the school’s faculty.

After graduation, the new doctors will begin residency programs representing 13 specialties in 16 states. The most represented specialties among the class include internal medicine, pediatrics, and general surgery.