On May 13, the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC held a satellite commencement ceremony at the southwest lawn of the Allan Hancock Foundation Building on University Park Campus. There were 54 graduates from the program this year.
Several leaders from the Keck School were present at the celebration, including Interim Dean Rohit Varma, MD, MPH. Faculty member Mitzi D’Aquila, MACM, PA-C, led the ceremony this year beginning with the achievements of the Class of 2016, particularly those students who participated in the Interprofessional Geriatric Curriculum and the selected individuals to be inducted into Pi Alpha Honor Society, the national honor society for physician assistants.
Raymond Waliany, MD, then rose to the podium to speak to the graduating class about being human in their practice. He referred to his own experience as it taught him to be a better listener and physician. Next Jennifer Wegler, MMSc, MA, PA-C, advised the students that they were about to start on a new journey in their career, but the best advice was to “be on time and bring doughnuts.” Student speaker Yeliana Mayor highlighted all the various achievements in her class from a National Health Service Corps Scholar to veterans to who had participated in medical missions.
Program Director Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C closed the ceremony with reading back quotes from the graduating students personal statements included in their applications to the program. It was clear that many of the students accomplished what they had dreamed of three years prior and were well prepared to become practicing PAs.
There were many tears of excitement and the students celebrated the final moments by throwing gold and cardinal confetti.
— Photos and text by Claire Norman