Arcadia Graduates Largest DPT Class in Its History

By Caitlin Burns | January 22, 2019

Frigid temperatures couldn’t stop the celebration of the 18th annual Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) commencement on Sunday, Jan. 20.

With 188 students, the Class of 2019 was the largest DPT class in the University’s history, including graduates of the Orthopaedic Residency and Transitional DPT programs.

Graduates, friends, and family members traveled from around the world to attend commencement in the Kuch Alumni Gymnasium. As far within the United States as California, and globally from the Philippines, the class represented the global values of the Arcadia community. Additionally, members of the DPT Class of 2019 volunteered within their local communities and also in England, Jamaica, Guatemala, and Haiti.

“Graduates, you have been given the tools to become leaders in physical therapy, thanks to the evidence-based practices taught by our esteemed, highly accomplished, and internationally renowned faculty, they have helped define and attain the global standard within your profession for nearly three decades,” said President Ajay Nair. “Use the tools you have gained and build upon all of your experiences to advance the field of physical therapy and to improve the quality of life for your patients.”

Commencement speaker Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler, an internationally recognized sports physical therapist and alumni distinguished professor at the University of Delaware, offered advice to help graduates accept transition and change. By looking back at the history of physical therapy, she envisioned how technological and biological advancements will improve the field and access to care.

“Our practice is chasing the phenomenon [of technology],” said Dr. Snyder-Mackler. “The future of technology is and will continue to play an impactful role in access, assessment, delivery of care, and also surveillance of our patients remotely and their performance, their adherence, and their outcomes.”

Members of Arcadia’s physical therapy community were honored during the ceremony. Jud Aaron accepted the Carol Leiper Physical Therapy Outstanding Commitment Award on behalf of his mother, Gerri Aaron ’14H, whose family founded the Dan Aaron Stay Fit Program in 2004 through the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, which is part of the Parkinson Council in Philadelphia.

Rebecca Fluta ’19DPT was the 10th annual recipient of the Jill Sisenwine Berger Physical Therapy Award, which recognizes an individual who showcases excellence, integrity, compassion, altruism, compassion, and social responsibility. The award is named after the late Jill Sisenwine Berger, an adjunct professor of Physical Therapy from 1998 to 2008 who died after a battle with cancer.

“Each of you is a talented and caring human,” said Gregory Synnestvedt ’19DPT, who was the student selected speaker. “Each of you will make an excellent physical therapist going forward– and each of you will have unique opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Additional graduate awards went to:

  • Nicole Rotunno ’19DPT for the E. Jane Carlin Award, which recognizes displays of academic excellence and outstanding clinical promise.
  • Benjamin Ruley ’19DPT for the Eugene Michels Award, which recognizes outstanding reasoning processes throughout the physical therapy curriculum.
  • John Helvie ’19DPT for the Hines Wright Humanitarian Award, which goes to an individual who gained an expanded view of clinical practice as a global citizen. He also received the John Robinson Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to maintaining the morale of students.
  • Synnestvedt ’19DPT for the Eric Scott McKee Student Travel Award, which is awarded to a future scholar who is presenting at a national conference.
  • Carolyn Ticker ’19DPT for the Marty Palmé Award, which recognizes extraordinary efforts on behalf of classmates and the physical therapy program.