On May 25, nearly 300 students became alumni as they walked across the Kimmel Center’s stage in Verizon Hall at the 112th Salus University Commencement ceremony. Master’s and doctorate degrees were conferred in Optometry, Audiology, Biomedicine, Public Health, Occupational Therapy, Low Vision Rehabilitation, Vision Rehabilitation Teaching, Orientation and Mobility, Blindness and Low Vision Impairment and for the first time, Speech-Language Pathology. Another first, is graduation of the inaugural class of Doctor of Optometry Accelerated Scholars
. These nine pioneering students
comprise the nation’s first three-year optometry program, which is heavily focused on individual student learning styles and in-depth clinical experiences.
President Dr. Michael H. Mittelman welcomed the Class of 2017 and provided both professional and personal words of wisdom.
“Listen to and treat your patients, not the technology that’s going to surround you,” he said. “Establish long-term goals for yourself and develop a strategy that absolutely forces you to push yourself out of your comfort zone; after all, that’s what got you all here today.”
He also encouraged them to embrace challenges head on. “Forge a path where there currently isn’t a path for others to follow,” he said. “Build yourself a great story and make it your own.”
The student commencement address was given by inaugural Speech-Language Pathology graduate Alexa Hope Seipt. She spoke of the innate calling all Salus graduates have, which brought to fruition their chosen professions and studies.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why,” she said. “We have all identified our ‘why’ as a strong commitment to others and a desire to make a difference. We entered Salus as eager-to-learn students with ample room for personal and professional growth.”
She concluded with inspirational words for her fellow classmates about the scope of their education. “We leave today as autonomous professionals, highly trained in the scope of practice in our respective fields,” she said. “We are competent in evidence-based practice, clinical problem solving and recognizing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to service.”
David B. Nash, MD, MBA, founding dean of Jefferson College of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Science degree, the highest degree awarded by the University. A board-certified internist, Dr. Nash is internationally recognized for his work in public accountability for outcomes, physician leadership development and quality-of-care-improvement.
Dr. Nash’s speech focused on the current climate of healthcare and how economic disparities play a large role in one’s overall health, especially in Philadelphia. He also left the graduates with a few points of hope as they enter the next chapter of their lives.
“You are all going to help shape a future healthcare system characterized by precision medicine,” he said. “Future healthcare professionals that are assembled here today, you’re going to be the first generation who will really capture the promise made 20 years ago about breaking the human genome. You’ll help to realize a new vision for that blue hospital sign that everyone’s familiar with. In your practice lifetime, I predict, that blue hospital sign will mean health, healing and a holistic approach to the patient.”
Prior to commencement day, numerous celebratory activities took place to honor the class of 2017. On Tuesday evening, May 23, 34 students received advanced studies certificates at a special recognition ceremony. This group of students was the program’s largest thus far. Students earned certificates in contact lens, anterior segment, neuro- ophthalmic disease or binocular vision and vision therapy. The following day, Occupational Therapy graduates presented their capstone poster presentations in the Hafter Center as a culmination of their studies. The annual graduate luncheon was held the same day at Presidential Caterers in East Norriton, Pa. where commencement awards were distributed to students for clinical excellence, highest academic average and specific program awards from the alumni association to name a few. See a full list of recipients here.
Following the luncheon, the second annual Legacy Reception was held for graduating students who have family members that are also alumni of the University. With a celebratory champagne toast, Dr. Mittelman thanked the individual families for being members of the Salus community and wished the graduates well as they embark on their professional careers.
Congratulations to the class of 2017! The entire Salus community wishes you well in your professional endeavors.
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