Commencement for the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC took place on the southwest lawn of the Allan Hancock Foundation Building on the University Park Campus. There were 58 graduates from the program this year.

Physician assistant students applaud their keynote speaker Matt Dane Baker, MPH, DHSC, who talked about the PA profession and the impact students will have as future providers. (Photo/Claire Norman)

Mitzi D’Aquila, MACM, PA-C, instructor of clinical family medicine and director of clinical education, led the ceremony. She recognized the achievements of the Class of 2018, particularly those students who participated in the Interprofessional Geriatrics Curriculum, the selected individuals to be inducted into Pi Alpha Honor Society — the national honor society for physician assistants and others who were active in leadership during their time at the school.

This year the group welcomed Keck School Dean Laura Mosqueda, MD, and Jehni Robinson, MD, acting chair of family medicine, to the event. Three years ago, these same students sat down to lunch with Mosqueda when she was chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Mosqueda’s attendance at the May 11 ceremony was a fitting close to the students’ journey at the school.

PA students found envelopes under their seats filled with quotes as a gift from their Inspirational Speaker Maria G. Maldonado, MPH, MPAP, PA-C. (Photo/Claire Norman)

Keynote speaker Matt Dane Baker, DHSc, PA-C, provost at Thomas Jefferson University, is well-known for his almost 40 years in PA education. His address highlighted the growth of the profession over the past 50 years and provided insight into the future of the profession in the age of disruptive technology.

“Patients are in desperate need of highly-educated and highly-empathetic (providers) to guide them,” Baker said. “PAs have the time, knowledge and human interaction skills to be amazing guides and change the world. You will do amazing things; you will save lives and make us all proud.”

Maria G. Maldonado, MPH, MPAP, PA-C, instructor of clinical family medicine, was selected by the class as their inspirational speaker and surprised the students with envelopes under their chairs filled with inspirational quotes. She used music to highlight the ebbs and flows of their journey in school and to reminded them, “not to worry, (they) have everything they need.”

Program Director Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C, highlighted how the Class of 2018 has a wonderful passion for caring for the underserved and congratulated them on all their hard work during this journey.

— Claire Norman

The PA Class of 2018 stands with Dean Laura Mosqueda, MD, following their satellite commencement ceremony on May 11. (Photo/Claire Norman)

Physician assistant students celebrated their achievements by decorating their caps for Commencement 2018. (Photo/Claire Norman)