Drexel President Fry to Graduates: Character and Integrity Still Matter
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Drexel President Fry to Graduates: Character and Integrity Still Matter

Dr. Mittelman congratulates graduate

Ancil Anthony wanted to make sure his three young children attended Salus University’s 128th Commencement ceremony. So, they traveled from Dubai to the United States for the first time because his wife and their mother, Shinju Thomas, AuD ‘24, was graduating. 

“I want the kids to see their mom graduate because it’s a motivational message for them,” said Anthony. 

Anthony/Harris family photoThomas and Anthony already had two children when Thomas decided to enroll in the University’s Doctor of Audiology Bridge program. She became pregnant with their third child while in the program, but after taking a maternity leave from school, completed her doctorate.

“It’s a proud moment for me because I am a mother of three children and a busy working person,” said Dr. Thomas. “With my family’s support, I was able to achieve this degree. My father will be proud of this moment because it was his ambition that I achieve this and his prayers were with me.”

The ceremony, held Thursday, May 23, at the Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia, featured 290 graduates who attended out of the 305, including 106 master’s degree recipients in a variety of disciplines and 184 doctoral degree recipients in a variety of disciplines.

The graduate commencement address was given by Lexi Danielle Hunn, MSOT ‘24. The keynote speaker was Drexel University president John Anderson Fry, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

President Fry and MHM with awardDuring his address, Fry talked about the upcoming pending merger between Salus and Drexel, calling it a “merger of choice.”*

“It will combine our complementary strengths in the health sciences professions to make Drexel University even more synonymous with health and well-being — the very meaning of Salus,” he said.

Fry stressed to the Class of 2024 they should pay particular attention to their Oath to Professionalism because nothing will mean more to the health of their patients — as well as the future of our democracy — than they’re faithful, unshakable commitment to the values and principles embedded in the oath. 

“For our democracy and civil society to survive, let alone thrive, character must still matter,” said Fry. “Integrity must still matter. And, putting the welfare of those that we serve above our own wants and needs must still matter.”

This commencement was truly a family affair for the Werner family. Anita Werner, MSOT ‘24, was the fifth person in her family to graduate from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University or one of its programs. That includes dad Joe Werner, OD ‘88; mom Annette Zambroni-Werner, OD ‘89; brother Alex Werner, OD ‘19; and brother Anderson Werner, OD ‘21.

The brothers had the honor of placing the hood on their little sister during the ceremony. 

Werner family photo“I felt the love,” said Anita Werner. “It was good to see them up there. I’m a legacy and that’s very rewarding. All the hard work paid off and I’m really glad to be here today to celebrate with my family and friends.”

But that appears to be the end of PCO/Salus line for the Werners. Youngest son Adam Werner is studying optometry, but chose the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. 

University president Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE, hopes graduates will embrace the opportunities that lie ahead for them with the same courage and determination that they’ve demonstrated throughout their journey at Salus. 

“You’ve all been given the gift of learning — now it’s time to transform that into something more useful, sustainable and unbounded — your impact on the world as you serve others,” said Dr. Mittelman. “You will practice in a rapidly changing environment. Resilience, innovation, compassion, the ability to listen and learn, and flexibility are how our institution continues to respond and how you will flourish as professionals.”

Serving others is why Carolyn Pijanowski, MS ‘24, VRT, decided to change careers and enter the Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) program in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy at Salus. After graduating from Messiah College with a degree in international business and Chinese studies, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native took a job with a wholesale restaurant manufacturer, purchasing commercial grade restaurant equipment and bringing it to the U.S.

“Not that selling restaurant equipment wasn't fulfilling, but I just wanted to do more with my career,” said Pijanowski. “I wanted to help people.”

She said walking across the stage to accept her diploma reaffirmed her belief that she made the right decision to change careers.  “I know I want to do this and I really like this field,” said Pijanowski, who will be an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialist with the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

* (Pending approval by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, specialized accreditors and additional third parties.)

Graduate waves at family