Arcadia Celebrates DPT Class of 2020

By Andrea Walls | January 20, 2020

Arcadia’s DPT Class of 2020 receive their doctorates at Commencement.

After years of rigorous academic work, the 254 members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2020 received their diplomas and were hooded at the DPT Commencement ceremony on Jan. 19.

The DPT Class of 2020 is represented with members from the Philippines, France, and Egypt, and domestically from as far as California, Oregon, and Texas. Through their coursework, graduates participated in global clinical experiences in England, Guatemala, and Jamaica.

“Graduates, you are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to help our citizens remain healthy, and our health care systems to deliver quality care,” said Dr. Rebecca Craik, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “Remember, always lead don’t follow.” 

Commencement speaker Dr. Michael J. Mueller, professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Washington School of Medicine, encouraged graduates to integrate their minds and hearts through professional service as they launch their careers.

“We need to serve our patients, our colleagues, and our profession with a heart of love,” Dr. Mueller said. “Great physical therapists demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs that supersede self-interest.” 

During the ceremony, Dr. Karen Sawyer, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, received the Carol Leiper Physical Therapy Outstanding Commitment Award, which honors an outstanding individual who has contributed to the University’s Physical Therapy Department in an exceptional and enduring way. Dr. Sawyer joined the Arcadia faculty more than 25 years ago and has been integral to developing and maintaining the global learning experiences students receive in the department. 

“Dr. Sawyer has been a trailblazer for international service-learning experiences,” said Dr. Philip McClure, professor and chair of Physical Therapy. “Since her first service trip to Jamaica with one student in 1996, more than 400 students have traveled to Jamaica, Peru, and Haiti to offer pro bono care for people who otherwise would not have access to physical therapy.”

“We have grown so much as thinkers, listeners, problem-solvers, caregivers, and clinicians,” said Bridget Ann DeSandis ’20DPT, who was the student-selected speaker. “Now that we have gotten through the rigors of school and clinical, we can look back and appreciate all that we have accomplished.” 

The following graduates were recognized for their academic and clinical excellence:

  • DeSandis ’20DPT received the Jill Sisenwine Berger Physical Therapy Award, which is given to a graduate who showcases the values of excellence, integrity, compassion, altruism, professionalism, and social responsibility; 
  • Danielle C. Fundakowski ’20DPT received the E. Jane Carlin Award for academic excellence and outstanding clinical promise;
  • Nicholas DellaVecchia ’20DPT received the Eugene Michels Award for his outstanding critical reasoning processes throughout the DPT curriculum; 
  • Benjamin Jaques Joong Devaud ’20DPT, whose international experience took him to Guatemala, and Kyle Kammerle ’18 ’20DPT, whose international experience took him to Jamaica, were each awarded the Hines Wright Humanitarian Award for their clinical work on a global level; and
  • Nicole Christine Sontheimer ’20DPT received the Eric Scott McKee Student Travel Award to fund her travel to present research at a national conference.

Kammerle also received the John Robinson Award, which honors a student who contributes to the general morale of their peers.

Arcadia’s DPT program is ranked 20th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for its innovative, patient-centered curriculum. With the combined classroom and experiential learning offered throughout the program, DPT graduates surpass the national average for passing the licensure examination on the first attempt and 100 percent of graduates finding employment.