Declaring that the United States is too rich to leave some of its citizens uninsured, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin made a plea for health care reform yesterday in a commencement speech at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
"Why not choose the creation of a fair and equitable health care system as the challenge of your generation?" the 3rd District Democrat asked a group of some 1,250 graduating students gathered in the Baltimore Arena for the afternoon ceremony.
Among the degrees handed out were 320 in social work, 229 in law, 145 in nursing, 142 in medicine and 91 in dentistry.
University President Errol L. Reese also awarded 28 Ph.D.s.
The doctoral dissertations covered a wide range of learning, from Edward Vincent Pecukonis' social work research on "Childhood Experiences, Personality Development and Marital Interactional Patters in Women with Chronic Benign Back Pain" to Andrew Paul Lieberman's medical research on "Regulation of Cytokine Gene Expression in Astrocytes."
The event was sometimes rowdy.
After the introduction of dental school Dean Richard E. Ranney, the dental students performed a brief wave usually seen at baseball stadiums.
The future dentists later stood and tipped their mortarboards to the group of graduating dental hygienists seated across the aisle.
Among the graduates was Mr. Cardin's son, Michael, the third generation of Cardins to receive a law degree from the University of Maryland law school.
Mr. Cardin graduated in 1967 and his father, former state Judge Meyer Cardin who was in the audience, in 1929.
"This is truly a special moment," Representative Cardin said.
The moment was equally special for Allan Irey, who had driven up from Oakton, Va., to see his 24-year-old daughter, Tracey, receive her nursing degree.
"I'm real proud," said Mr. Irey. "She put herself through. This was her goal and she went for it and kept going."
Anthony Rocco Petito, a dental student selected to speak for the student body, urged his colleagues "to use your talents to help others."