It was September 2008 and Michael Leasure had just started medical school at UTMB.  And then Hurricane Ike brought his education to a temporary halt.

“I thought maybe that I would wind up finishing up school somewhere else but I never lost my faith in UTMB,” said Leasure, who along with more than 200 other medical students, returned to classes on the main campus about a month after the storm hit.
And on June 2, Leasure and his classmates walked across the stage, graduating on time from the UTMB School of Medicine.  “No doubt, it was special for all of us,” said Leasure, who will be a resident in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
Dr. Donald Prough, interim dean of the UTMB School of Medicine, said that he is extremely proud of all the graduating students.  “Medical school can be stressful enough but these students had to also contend with a hurricane.  And they dealt with it with aplomb.”
Many of Leasure’s classmates lost just about everything during the hurricane.  “I was lucky,”  Leasure said.  “My apartment was on the third floor.  But there was loose siding on the side of the building and any slight wind would set it beating against the wall.  It’s not the worst thing in the world but I’m a light sleeper to begin with and it reminded me of the storm for quite a while.” 
Leasure and his classmates overcame a lot of adversity that fall in 2008, which may be why the class overwhelmingly requested a special keynote speaker for their commencement who has overcome her own obstacles to becoming a physician —Dr. Jennifer Arnold, star of the TV program, “The Little Couple.”
Arnold, medical director of the Pediatric Simulation Center at Texas Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, was born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, or SED, in which a random genetic mutation causes abnormal collagen formation. That led to her dwarfed growth and orthopedic problems.