On May 10, the Primary Care Physician Assistant (PA) Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC held a satellite commencement ceremony on the southwest lawn of the Allan Hancock Foundation Building on University Park Campus. There were 58 graduates from the program this year.

PA Program faculty member Mitzi D’Aquila, MACM, PA-C, instructor of clinical family medicine, led the ceremony this year beginning with the achievements of the Class of 2019, particularly those students who participated in the Interprofessional Geriatric Curriculum and the Student Senior Partnership Program, the selected individuals to be inducted into Pi Alpha Honor Society — the national honor society for physician assistants — and those who were active in leadership during their time at USC.

Keynote speaker Timi Agar Barwick, MPM, CEO of the Physician Assistant Education Association, spoke to the students about the importance of self-care for clinicians.

“You by virtue of the profession you have chosen to enter, you are part of the incredible few that pursue your calling,” Barwick shared. “My hope is that the next time I need care that I am fortunate enough to be cared for by and seen by one of you. The healthiest of providers. My PA. I would consider that an honor.”

The Class of 2019 selected Emily WhiteHorse, PhD, PA-C, assistant professor of clinical family medicine, as their inspirational speaker, as she is leaving the program this year to pursue new professional opportunities. She spoke to the students about inspiration, motivation and potential.

“In your role as a PA you are constantly in a position of potential to affect and influence people, communities, policies and even health care today,” WhiteHorse said. “Your persistence makes all the difference for that one patient, that one family, that one community — that’s the moment you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. It is that motivation that will keep you doing it. And the real beauty, just like you were inspired, you have the potential to inspire others every day.”

— Claire Norman

Ashley Karimi, Dora Afraim and Sharon Dann pose before the PA Satellite Commencement Ceremony on May 10. (Photo/Claire Norman)

The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program Class of 2019 throw their caps to celebrate their commencement. (Photo/Claire Norman)