Graduation is for the graduates. For each new grad, the event is most often a tale of personal triumph and success, a pathway to a brighter future.
But for the School of Physician Assistant Studies’ class of 2012, this year’s graduation was a tale not only of personal success, but one made possible through teamwork.
“Just a year ago, we survived our first year,” class president Lauren Kelley told her classmates during the ceremony, held June 23.
Each student, Kelley said, reached graduation because of those sitting around them. They made it through together.
Before the ceremony began, about 200 people packed the lobby of the Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, moving in and out of bathrooms, clogging limited walk space and stopping clusters of students draping themselves in black gowns.
Parents latched onto the final moments to commemorate the 59 graduates. One by one, camera flashes lit up a lobby dimmed by the growing storm outside.
Around 2:45 p.m., family and friends went into the auditorium, leaving students to adjust their caps and zip up their gowns on their own.
A piano processional welcomed students as they filtered in and filed toward their seats. As they marched down two aisles, green tassels bobbing with every step, applause from the crowd grew louder and louder until Ralph Rice, DHSc, PA-C, associate dean and director of the School of Physician Assistant Studies, motioned for the ceremony to begin.
Rice asked the family and friends peppered throughout the audience to stand for a moment of recognition. As they stood, Rice told them the students could not have pushed through the two-year program without their support.
It was a message that resonated throughout the entire ceremony.
Russell During, Ph.D., the guest speaker, encouraged students to do something he hadn’t done at their age: relax. He suggested fishing.
Amid the laughs, During reminded the class to appreciate their families, to spend time with them during the monthlong credentialing process. He joked about the norm of parents taking graduates out to dinner.
“Maybe you should take them to dinner,” he said, “instead of them taking you to dinner.”
Two students in particular were honored at the graduation. Julie Posada was named the Outstanding Academic Year student, based on performance during the first year of PA school. Carey Duncan was named the Outstanding Clinical Year student, based on performance in clinical rotations.
Students recognized professors’ efforts, too, honoring Bruce Stevens as the Outstanding Academic Year Instructor and Doyle Bosse as the Outstanding Clinical Year Instructor.
College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D., delivered what he called a three-fold message to the graduating class.
“Congratulations,” Good began. “Congratulations, thank you, and now it’s time to do something great.”
Good applauded the graduates for their questions and thirst to change the world of medicine. He also urged them to “pause for a minute and relish in all you have done.”
“You will change the world,” he said. “You will make our world a healthier place.”