Arcadia Celebrates Excellence, Perseverance in Virtual DPT Commencement

By Caitlin Burns | January 21, 2021

Through live Zoom ceremonies on Jan. 15 and 17, Dean of the College of Health Sciences Dr. Rebecca Craik encouraged the 104 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (TDPT) graduates to be the catalyst of change in health care.

“Remember to lead, but if you choose to follow, be an active member of a team,” Dr. Craik said. “You are now equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to help our citizens remain healthy and our health care system to deliver quality care to everyone, not just the few. Developing an equitable system is long overdue.”

During the ceremonies, each graduate was hooded by a loved one when their name was called. Many were surrounded by their family in person or through watch parties. Family and friends of graduates tuned in from around the world over the two days to celebrate their loved one’s accomplishments.

Several graduates received departmental awards:

  • Josephine Kaden Haller ’21DPT received the Jill Sisenwine Berger Physical Therapy Award for excellence, integrity, compassion, altruism, professionalism, and social responsibility;
  • Talia Anne Holze ’21DPT received the E. Jane Carlin Award for academic excellence and outstanding clinical promise;
  • Erin Lee Farmer ’21DPT received the Eugene Michels Award for outstanding critical reasoning processes throughout the program;
  • Jeremie Laraque-Two Elk ’21DPT received the Eric Scott McKee Student Travel Award for presenting his research at a national conference; and
  • Eric Goldsborough ’21DPT received the John Robinson Award for outstanding contributions to maintaining the general morale of the students.

Arcadia University’s Department of Physical Therapy is ranked in the top 20 programs nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

Keynote speakers encouraged graduates to share in the joys and lessons with their patients, and to never stop learning. In his keynote address to TDPT graduates on Jan. 15, Dr. Bill Boissonnault, physical therapist and adjunct professor at Arcadia, encouraged students to understand the influence they have on their patients lives through letters he had collected from physical therapy patients about their clinicians.

“Approach every single patient as if they or their families will be writing a letter about you,” said Dr. Boissonnault. Through his letters, he conveyed how physical therapists can impact lives: from getting someone back on their feet after an injury to helping an individual with a degenerative disease stay mobile. “What would you want to read or have others read about you?”

At the DPT ceremony on Jan. 17, keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Binder-Macleod, professor and associate deputy provost for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Delaware, encouraged graduates to always keep learning. He noted how the field of Physical Therapy is constantly changing because of new research or techniques being developed, and that DPT graduates should embrace this change.

“There has never been students who are better trained or better equipped to meet the challenges of today’s healthcare system than you,” said Dr. Binder-Macleod. “It’s now your job for the rest of your professional lives to constantly expand your [learning of] new techniques and increase your depth of understanding of all that you do for and with your patients.”

As a supplement to the live virtual ceremony, Arcadia University launched a DPT Commencement Ceremony webpage where recordings can be watched by family and friends who couldn’t attend. Additionally, Arcadia’s faculty and staff shared congratulatory videos with students, including some inside jokes and pet excitement over graduation.

“Congratulations Class of 2021, you’ve worked really hard under really unusual circumstances,” said Dr. Michael Tevald, associate professor of Physical Therapy, who shared a video of his bearded dragon, Chandler, waving his arms against his aquatic tank. “He was very excited when I told him you were graduating.”