By Kate Hunger
The Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2021 graduated on Dec. 10 at Holly Auditorium.
School of Health Professions Dean David Shelledy, PhD, RRT, RPFT, FAARC, FASAHP, congratulated the 44 graduates on their accomplishments despite the challenges of COVID-19.
“The worldwide pandemic has had a significant impact on our education programs, clinical training rotations and daily life,” Dr. Shelledy said. “Yet you, the Class of 2021, have persevered. You demonstrated resilience, determination and excellence as you focused on successful completion of the rigorous PA studies program and worked hard to become the very best new physician assistants you could be.
“I hope for many of you that this is just the beginning of your educational journey, and I’m confident that you will continue to learn throughout the remainder of your professional lives.”
Graduating student Julie Koo delivered remarks on behalf of the class. To prepare, she sent out a survey to her classmates to gather their insights and experiences gained through the program.
“I cannot tell you how many people wrote in and said, ‘Trust the process and more importantly, trust in yourself,’” Koo told the audience.
“Sometimes we will come across a decision where it feels like there are no right answers or every answer will feel like the right one,” Koo said. “Decisions may seem huge at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things it matters more what you do afterwards, once you commit to that decision. Along the same lines of decisions, do not underestimate your ability to improvise, adapt and overcome so that you are able to do what is best for your patient.”
The following graduates received additional honors:
Alpha Eta Honor Society: Evan Marina Bridges, Shelbie Jordyn Carr, Karla Joanna Gracia, McKenzie Lyne Knapick, Sydney Louise Laudwig, Rachel Margaret Mansker, Brittani Mae Orme, Sarah Lorin Salzman and Virginia Arrington Wixler
Pi Alpha Honor Society: Shelbie Jordyn Carr, Karla Joanna Gracia, McKenzie Lyne Knapick, Sydney Louise Laudwig, Brittani Mae Orme and Virginia Arrington Wixler
Dean’s Award (4.0 GPA at time of graduation): Shelbie Jordyn Carr, Brittani Mae Orme and Virginia Arrington Wixler
The following students received class-specific recognitions:
Outstanding Clinical Student Award: Bailiegh Bostick
Outstanding Student Service Award: McKenzie Humphrey
Outstanding Physician Assistant Student Award: McKenzie Knapick
Outstanding Physician Assistant Student Peer Award: Julie Koo
The commencement ceremony was streamed live, as well, but Koo said she was thankful for the opportunity to gather in person.
“Our class is really close,” she said. “It was just great to be able to celebrate one last time and properly acknowledge our achievements.”
Also participating in the ceremony was commencement speaker P. Eugene “Gene” Jones, PhD, PA-C, professor emeritus at UT Southwestern.