Fall Commencement 2017

On the early afternoon of October 9, 71 students had the distinguished honor of becoming alumni at Salus University’s 113th commencement ceremony, held in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts for the first time. While rainy, the forecast didn’t put a damper on the celebratory festivities amidst the fall commencement. President Dr. Michael H. Mittelman welcomed the attendees and graduates, who represented the Physician Assistant Studies, Audiology, Public Health, Speech-Language Pathology and Clinical Optometry with an Advanced Studies Certificate programs. During his opening remarks, Dr. Mittelman also welcomed special guest Dr. Watanee Janchitr, dean of the optometry program at Rangsit University in Thailand. Dr. Janchitr graciously joined the ceremony to celebrate the graduation of one of her colleagues, Trinnawat Tongchit, who is among the first Thai students to receive the Master of Science degree in Clinical Optometry (MSCO). Dr. Mittelman also emphasized how commencement marks a special transition for the graduates.

“As you transition to this life of being a full time student to a healthcare professional, a healer, a life-long learner, you not only have to embrace all the opportunities that have been afforded to you, but you have to have the courage and determination to transform all of these opportunities into real accomplishments and only you know how to do that,” he said. “I want you to confront these challenges head on and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.”

He also reminded the students to never stray from their main focus within their practice.

“Remember to keep the patient at the center of everything you do,” he said. “The reason we do what we do is to take care of that individual patient who has entrusted their care to you and never lose sight of that.”

During his student address George Panagiotopoulos, graduate of the Doctor of Audiology Bridge program, explained the importance of lifelong learning and how the innovative knowledge the graduates acquired through their courses of study will aid them both personally and professionally.

Fall Commencement 2017
“Lifelong learning is about maintaining and creating a positive attitude to assimilate new knowledge for both professional and personal development,” he said. “Lifelong learning can enhance our understanding of the world around us, provide us with better opportunities and increase quality of life of both individuals and society.”

Rachel Levine, MD, Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was not only the keynote speaker, but she also received an honorary Doctor of Science degree, the highest degree awarded by the University.

As an openly transgender woman and the highest ranking transgender woman in Pennsylvania government, she too focused her message on how transitions and how they impacted her career. She began with a quote from the Douglas Adams novel Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think that I ended up where I needed to be.” She further illustrated her sentiment by using personal examples from her life, first speaking about her time at Belmont Hill School, an all-boys school in Belmont, Mass., leaving the graduates with an important lesson about assumptions.

“You may have thought that I didn’t like Belmont Hill given the circumstances, but that would be incorrect,” she said. “I loved my time at Belmont Hill. Take people as they are and don’t make assumptions.”

Rachel LevineAfter taking the audience through her career, from working at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, to moving to central Pennsylvania – which she claims was her biggest transition in life – and  joining Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and finally becoming the Physician General for Pennsylvania, she emphasized the importance of diversity and acceptance in all aspects.

“I was not just accepted; I was welcomed because of the diversity I brought to the school,” she said when speaking about her time at Penn State Hershey, where she began transitioning. “I strongly feel that diversity in all its myriad of ways should be welcomed and celebrated for the way it strengthens and enhances an organization.”

Dr. Levine left the students with some words of advice for their futures.

“Have big goals for your career and be open to finding yourself not necessarily where you intended to go, but where you were meant to be,” she concluded. “Try to keep your idealism. Life might take you on many different turns and on many unexpected paths, but I am confident the education you received here will prepare you for all those roads.”

Salus University Commencement
Prior to commencement, a special reception was held on campus in the Hafter Student Center the previous evening where students received awards for their academic achievements.

 
Award List
Osborne College of Audiology – Doctor of Audiology
Alumni Association Award
Georgios K. Panagiotopoulos
 
College of Education and Rehabilitation – Blindness and Low Vision Studies
Alumni Association Award
Sara Marie Reuss   
 
Graduation with Honors
Cum Laude (3.50-3.69)
Melanie Jean Taylor
 
Summa Cum Laude (3.9-4.0)
Sara Marie Reuss   
 
Pennsylvania College of Optometry – Master of Science in Clinical Optometry
Alumni Association Award
YuanYuan Hu                                             
 
Leadership Award
Liping Chen                                                 
 
College of Health Sciences – Physician Assistant Studies
Alumni Association Award
Maria Erin Valderas                                    
 
Graduation with Honors
Cum Laude (3.5-3.69)
Nicole Ardis                                                 
Eric Darryl Dees                                          
Mira Julia Braun Graeber                          
Chasen Kenneth Halcomb                                                                       
Venessa Lorraine Heath               
Mark P. Ortiz                                                
Jasmine Peralta                                          
Samantha Christina Stelmack                 
Kelvin McBride Thomas                                                                            
Rayna Vause                                              
 
Magna Cum Laude (3.7-3.89)
Brynn Courtney Becker                                                                 
Amanda Ann Boettger                               
Sonja Lynn Julian                                      
Hannah Aquilla League                            
Chelsea Lettieri                                           
Jessica Lauren Swann                                          
Sarah Tangert                                             
Courtney Genene Winterholler
 
Summa Cum Laude (3.9-4.0)
Richard G. Cardillo III
Laura Kate Guinan                                     
Maria Erin Valderas                                    
 
 
Clinical Excellence Award
Mark P. Ortiz                                                
 
 
Pi Alpha National Honor Society
Richard G. Cardillo III
Laura Kate Guinan                                     
Chelsea Lettieri                                           
Mark P. Ortiz                                                
Maria Erin Valderas                                    
Courtney Genene Winterholler
 
 
College of Health Sciences – Public Health
Graduation with Honors
 
Summa Cum Laude (3.9-4.0)
Christopher Hay Caldwell