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Commencement 2016

June 15, 2016

This month marked a milestone for the University – its first ever graduation at Citizen’s Bank Park. Students from every discipline and college together took their seats within the Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball diamond and left as our newest alumni. Their families sat in the stands to “root, root, root” for them, and faculty members prepared inside the team’s media room to lead these promising young professionals to the beginning of their next chapter.

For the hundreds of students completing their courses of study at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, a new tradition began. Prior to the University-wide commencement ceremony, the College held its own at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, only a few short blocks from where they spent the last four or five years learning and growing as future clinicians and movers and shakers of health care. Graduate and undergraduate students, alike, worked tirelessly to get to that point on Thursday, June 9, and to share in the relief, excitement and pride of that day two graduating students were selected to address their peers. To sum up commencement 2016, we thought it best to share their words with you.

Samantha Micael, Master in Family Therapy ’16, reflecting on her Drexel experience: “There is no doubt that 2016 will be a year of extraordinary changes. In this crucial election year, it is no surprise that healthcare is at the forefront of our political consciousness. Now more than ever before, physical and mental health are priorities for the American people, and strides continue to be made to ensure that healthcare becomes a right for all of our citizens. The College of Nursing and Health Professions, with a commitment to integrative education and social justice, has shaped us to understand and ultimately transform this current system. But before we embark on our careers as nursing and health professionals, it is important for us to reflect on our time as students at Drexel University, and recognize how it has prepared us to excel in this advancing field.

“We must look back on the faculty and staff that guided us along the way, being appreciative of not only the education they provided, but also the wisdom and encouragement they gave to each of us. They have served as our professors, our supervisors, and our professional and personal life mentors, and we would not be here today without their constant support. We look back on the classmates that traveled on this journey alongside us. There will never be enough words to explain how important you have all been, but I think Vitamin C summed it up best: As we go on, we remember all the times we had together. And as our lives change, come whatever. We will still be, friends forever.

“To our families and loved ones in the audience today, and to those who could not be here, we thank you for your unwavering faith in us in our academic endeavors. To my family here today, I thank you for the values you’ve instilled in me to ensure I would always be successful. Not only am I proud as an African American woman to be on this stage today, I am also proud to be the first person in my family to achieve a Master’s degree. The American Dream is alive and well, and I thank my parents for immigrating here to provide better opportunities for their children. And finally, we look back on Philadelphia, the beautiful world-class city that we got to call home for a moment in time. The City of Brotherly Love has been instrumental in getting hands-on experience in our respective fields, and we thank you for allowing us to serve your community. We also look back on the exciting nights out, the historic sights and stunning skyline that were the backdrops to our lives, and most importantly, for welcoming us to the wonderful world of cheesesteaks. We look back on all of these experiences, grateful that it has brought us to this moment together.

“Today, we walked in as students, but we will walk out as Drexel alumni, as colleagues, and as health professionals ready to continue the work being done to revolutionize the healthcare system. We must look back on our time here at Drexel University as we move forward to the next chapter of our lives. The academic rigor, the co-op and internship opportunities, and the connections we have established have prepared us to be the most successful health professionals we can be. I hope you look back on your time at Drexel fondly, and use this ceremony today as the stepping-stone to move forward in your careers. 2016 will continue to be extraordinary with intelligent, thoughtful, and socially just professionals like you in the world. I wish you all a lifetime of success and know you will go far, and I congratulate you on this milestone you have achieved today. Good luck, Dragons!”

Katerina Raiser, BSN Co-op ’16,  on looking back to move forward: “Whether you are sitting here today as a four- or five-year student, a transfer student or a graduate student, what matters is that you're sitting here. As we celebrate our graduation we must look back in order to successfully move forward. It is important to remember that no matter what CNHP classes put in our way, we overcame them. Whether it was the never ending process of registering for classes, final exams being 45% of our grades, the ever-grueling experience of the Drexel shuttles, countless nights attempting to study at the library, or the numerous trips to Cavs to make it through till Friday, we can sit here today and know that these experiences have made us the intelligent, well-trained, sleep deprived people we are today.

“But this success did not come from only within ourselves. We must remember the support we received along the way. Freshmen strangers that became best friends, parents and siblings that offered continuous encouragement, and last-but-not-least, the professors who taught us. Be it a love or hate relationship depending on the day or the grade. To be successful, we must remember that through it all we came out stronger, smarter and, most importantly, never alone.
“As we have heard so many times before, as one door closes another door opens. Today our doors open to the endless possibilities that Drexel has prepared us for. The Drexel process has taught us the patience needed when we are met with straining circumstances. Drexel’s network greets us into a family of alumni, always there to support and encourage each other. Today is the time to celebrate what we have worked to accomplish. Today is a day to move into the future as we step through the next door in our lives. And, remember no matter how bad your day might be going, at least it won't involve riding the Drexel shuttle.”
In the spirit of honoring exceptional academic achievement, the CNHP ceremony also recognized undergraduate students who completed their degrees with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. They were: Matthew Brian Prusinski, Health Sciences, and Robin L. Hewlett and Cassie D. Prendergast, both Accelerated Career Entry BSN students. Nancy Parfitt Hondros, MA in Art Therapy and counseling, was acknowledged for receiving the Outstanding Promise Award, and Emily Werner, MS in Human Nutrition, was also celebrated for receiving the Research Excellence Award. Both awards were from the University’s Graduate College.
By Margaret DeGennaro ‘12