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More than 30 Physician Assistant Students Graduate in Intimate Event

Faculty, staff and family celebrate students’ accomplishments

Over the course of 27 months, 33 Sacred Heart University physician assistant students completed 100 assessments, 2,000 hours of clinical rotations and research capstone projects. Their reward for all that hard work came on a recent morning when they proudly proceeded into an intimate graduation ceremony at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts in front of friends, family and staff and received their diplomas.

“Much effort on many fronts took place to make this day a reality,” said SHU President John J. Petillo at the ceremony. He acknowledged the faculty who taught the students, as well as the family and friends who encouraged and supported them.

Petillo reminded the students that learning does not end at SHU. “Life is a major journey,” he said, and listening, learning and loving determines who the students will become as professionals. “Demonstrate your talent and be compassionate in your delivery of health care,” he said.

Petillo also bid farewell and good luck to Teresa Thetford, director of the PA program, who is retiring and moving to California to be with her family. He recognized her hard work and contribution to the success of the program.

Graduation speaker Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of Alliance of Community Health Plans, told the graduates they have a “remarkable opportunity” to shape the future of the health-care industry.

After the conferral of the degrees, class president Erica Stolarz ’11, addressed her peers, who were chosen from an applicant pool of 1,100. She reminisced about the program’s challenges, the many tests and clinical rotations they endured and cups of coffee they consumed. But with all the stress came trips together and friendships and life-long bonds they formed. “Each step of the way was an adventure,” Stolarz said.

When the students entered the program, they were told to read the book “Every Patient Tells a Story,” by Lisa Sanders. Recalling that, Stolarz said, “And every patient teaches us a lesson. Let’s remain open to the many lessons to come.”