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Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling

PROGRAM

The Art Therapy and Counseling graduate program prepares students with beginning skills and knowledge to apply theoretical and relevant art therapy practices. To do this, classroom didactic learning and individual to small group supervisions dynamically support the students’ applications of informal to formal assessment and treatment planning, health care and related documentation, and contemporary ethical practices. The intercultural impacts of health and relational contexts, discrimination and stress, and wellness and resilience are emphasized as well as the value of media and materials discernment in forming therapeutic relationships and connections. Students combine art therapy and counseling methods within multiple systems of care for engaging diverse individuals, groups, and families for collaborative goals. The program, at a minimum, aims to prepare competent entry-level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.

The Art Therapy and Counseling program's 90-quarter-credit curriculum is designed to meet the Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) educational requirements for state licensure and the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Educational standards for professional Art Therapy Credentials Board national certification (ATR-BC). While art therapy educational standards are a part of national accreditation, state licensure requirements for professional therapists and counselors vary widely from state to state and may change at any time. Our Art Therapy and Counseling program is licensure-eligible in the state of Pennsylvania and not automatically portable state to state. Therefore, if you are or will be interested in counseling licensure, you are strongly advised to access and check the licensure requirements for any state(s) in which you plan to work and practice to make sure they align with the curriculum content and field education outcomes of this program.

What you will learn

Through a multifaceted learning process, students of the Art Therapy and Counseling program learn the significant impacts that creativity, cultural humility and self-awareness, and empathy play in helping relationships and interpersonal development. The students learn to engage and strengthen their trauma-informed facilitation and group skills that include active listening, creative media use, and effective verbal, written, and meta verbal communication as well as self-regulation and compassion.

The Art Therapy and Counseling curriculum is a synthesis of multiple interactive educational components including theory, applied practice via field education, small group and individual supervision, and creative-based scholarship. Experienced together, these interactive learning components mirror the complex interplay that can occur between participants, creative processes and therapeutic spaces, and the metaphysical materiality of media in art therapy. The contemporary practices that our art therapy and counseling curriculum align with are prevention and social support, lifestyle and community connection, wellness and resilience, rehabilitation, therapeutic assessment, and social action and advocacy.

Key program components include:

  • Advanced education in the theoretical and applied foundations of art psychotherapy; art as therapy; open studio approaches; counseling theories and micro-skills; social action, advocacy, and ethics of care; and systems perspectives within community-based, wellness, and preventive initiatives;
  • 2 - 3 supervised field placement opportunities, beginning with practicum and developing over experience into a more independent internship, with a range of populations in a variety of systems of care including medical and psychiatric hospitals, outpatient and interdisciplinary behavioral health facilities, schools or other educational supports, assisted living care facilities, recovery-focused systems, community health centers, shelters, foster care, and more;
  • Emphasis on cultural humility skill acquisition including understanding and articulating how intersectional identities and social positionality (privileged and oppressed) can impact and augment therapeutic relationships and goals of therapy;
  • Counseling courses that have integrated learning across the CATs (Creative Arts Therapies or Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, and Music Therapy);
  • Master's culminating project that is creative based scholarship disseminated via an end of academic year online community platform;
  • Experiential art-making processes that inform both classroom and didactic learning to support the students’ sequential field education (practicum & internship) experiences

What makes the Drexel Art Therapy and Counseling program unique?

This groundbreaking program was the first United States graduate program in North America to matriculate arts therapy students and continues to support innovation and excellence in the creative arts therapies fields.

Students combine art therapy and counseling practices with integrated learning across the CATs (Creative Arts Therapies or Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, and Music Therapy) and real-life fieldwork and quality Delaware Valley area supervisors.

Students opting for the two-year plan of study start their fieldwork experiences upon the start of their first quarter.

Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions has critical access to various practice environments, interdisciplinary opportunities including collaborative culminating projects, and research facilities and infrastructure.

This distinctive program was founded in 1967 at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital.

Welcome to the Art Therapy & Counseling Admissions page! Here you will find information to help you get started and sustain your application journey.

The deadline for applications for the Fall 2023 cohort is Tuesday, December 6, 2022.

What do I need to apply for this program?

Degree:
A Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution (college, university, community college) and a minimum overall GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.0 or above.

Transcripts:
Send your official transcripts directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap to Drexel University, Applications Processing, PO Box 34789, Philadelphia, PA 19101, OR submitted through a secure electronic transcript delivery service to enroll@drexel.edu. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.

Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.

If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency. Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions.

What prerequisites need to be included in my transcripts for my application to be considered for an interview and acceptance?
We require foundational coursework and demonstratable skills and exploration in psychology and studio art subjects as essential “building blocks” to our graduate art therapy and counseling curriculum to follow undergraduate study. If you are still completing your undergraduate degree and/or plan to take additional courses to fulfill these prerequisites not currently on your transcript during this application process, please indicate this in your essay or communicate your plan or timeline for completing them before your entry to our program.

Studio Art:
18-semester credits (or 27-quarter credits) of studio art coursework that can include a variety of 2D and 3D mediums that can include drawing, ceramics, printmaking, fiber and textile arts, painting, sculpture or fabrication, digital media including photography, video, and animation, and costume or set design.

Psychology coursework:
12-semester credits (or 18-quarter credits) of psychology coursework, including one 3 semester credit (or 4.5 quarter credit) course in developmental psychology and one 3 semester credit (or 4.5 quarter credit) course reviewing psychological phenomenon of mental illness, addiction, and adversity. The remaining six-semester credits (or 9-quarter credits) of psychology pre-requisites could be in areas of each applicant’s interest and/or courses available.

What do I need to prepare and submit along with my application and transcripts?
The following list includes all required elements for your application.

  • Three Letters of Recommendation: You can electronically request recommendations by listing your recommenders and their contact information on your application or through the Discover Drexel portal after you submit your application. Choose recommenders who can speak to your coursework, paid or volunteer jobs, artistry, and scholarship such as previous or current professors, supervisors, or employers. Once requested, please follow up with your recommenders to ensure they received your recommendation request — they may need to check their junk mail or Spam folder. Be sure to confirm that your recommenders will submit letters by your application deadline and follow up with those who have not completed their recommendations.
  • A Personal Statement/Essay: Please submit a 500 to 750-word typed personal essay that is intended to serve as a writing sample while telling the application review team more about you. Some things you could include are: Why are you applying to our program? What inspired you to follow a career in art therapy? What level of and insight into human service experience do you have? If you feel comfortable to share, please bring in aspects of your race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, dis/ability, nationality, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, and any other relevant cultural affiliation/s that connect your learning or future work goals to intercultural experiences or community perspectives.
  • CV/Resume: Include your relevant education, work, and service or volunteer experiences.
  • Visual Art Portfolio: Submit a portfolio of 10–15 works of art that demonstrate facility with a range of media and your understanding of the creative process. Include an image or file list (title, media, and dimensions) and any relevant context or descriptions along with the artworks shared, and within the portfolio. The purpose of this portfolio is for us to understand your media and materials expression and exploration. Refrain from uploading prescriptive assignments from foundational art classes, unless you like how they turned out! As shared above, your creative works can include a variety of 2D and 3D mediums such as drawing, ceramics, printmaking, painting, sculpture or fabrication, fiber and textile arts, digital media including photography, video, and animation, and costume or set design. We invite you to share your more recent and current projects, ideas, and innovative media practices to evidence both breadth and depth of materials use rather than a more singular focus or “consistency” in your portfolio. Art therapy portfolios tend to be contrastive in content compared to fine arts examples. Visual Art Portfolios are to be uploaded through SlideRoom.

What happens after I apply?

  • All applications are collated into the Drexel Graduate Admissions database and uploaded after the final December deadline for faculty review in early January.
  • Invitations to interview will be delivered to select applicants via our Creative Arts Therapies Admissions e-mail by early February, with options to attend a group interview on dates in late February or early March.
  • Selected international candidates will be contacted via Creative Arts Therapies Admissions email to schedule online interviews if they cannot be present for in-person interview days.
  • All candidates invited to enroll in the next Fall cohort will be notified via email from both Creative Arts Therapies Admissions and Drexel Graduate Admissions by the end of March via email.
  • Those applicants not invited to interview, or not accepted after the group interviews are completed, will be notified by the Drexel Graduate Admissions office.

Who can I contact for more information about the admissions process and if I have any questions?
A Creative Arts Therapies admissions coordinator is here to answer your additional questions. Please email: CATadmissions@drexel.edu.

What if I have more questions and/or am not yet ready to apply?
Reach out to us. We would love to hear from you! Ask our Admissions Coordinator about our next online Q & A session and/or upcoming on-campus visit day.

Diversity, equity and inclusion:
Please review the CNHP (College of Nursing and Health Professions) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website as to our program, department and greater college and university commitments in making our learning and work environments diverse and inclusive, or places where all voices and persons are heard and honored for their lived experiences. We also value how intersectional experiences and perspectives intrinsically enrich education, research and practice.

Did you know Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is an age-friendly college?
Learn more at: https://drexel.edu/cnhp/research/centers/agewell/Age-Friendly-Drexel-University/

Tuition and Fee Rates: Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central.

Curriculum

Art Therapy and Counseling students study the vital roles that creativity, empathy and cultural humility augment our professional work and interpersonal growth. The 90 quarter-credit curriculum includes specific art therapy coursework in areas such as:

  • foundations of creative arts therapies;
  • assessment and treatment planning for children, adolescents, adults, older adults and families;
  • trauma and systemic approaches;
  • creativity, symbol and metaphor;
  • digital media use;
  • mindfulness;
  • professional identity;
  • addictions and recovery.

Students also take classes in general counseling topics including:

  • psychological human development;
  • DSM and psychopathology;
  • social and cultural foundations;
  • professional ethics and orientation;
  • career counseling;
  • clinical appraisal and assessment;
  • theories of counseling and psychotherapy;
  • behavioral research;
  • group dynamics.

The Art Therapy and Counseling program is a high-residency program, meaning that students must attend in-person classes at Drexel’s Philadelphia campus during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. All Summer term courses are offered completely online, and to accommodate students’ abilities to work and/or be in locations other than Philadelphia for reasons of rest or return to family and friends while completing their summer course work. Classes and practicums/internships are scheduled for weekdays (Monday through Friday) and generally during daytime hours (8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Students may enroll in an accelerated (7 quarters) or a decelerated (11 quarters) plan of study, which span the coursework and field education experiences over two or three years, respectively. We do not refer to the three-year, decelerated plans of study as part-time because in all terms, students will register for enough credits to be considered full-time for the federal financial aid requirements. At a minimum, decelerated plan of study students need to be available two days a week in their first year, three to four days a week in their second year, and 4-5 days a week in their final year. There are additional time commitments needed weekly to complete variable assignments, prepare readings or other learning materials, and/or engage in small group activities for courses and supervisions.

Accreditation

The Drexel University Art Therapy and Counseling program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs www.caahep.org

Both ACATE and CAAHEP cooperate with the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) to establish, maintain and promote appropriate standards of quality for educational programs that meet or exceed the minimum standards. The Drexel University Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program also meets the educational requirements for the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) or ATR-BC (board certification) with the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB).

Benefits of Accreditation
CAAHEP accreditation attests to the quality of an educational program that prepares for entry into the art therapy profession.

  • For the public, accreditation promotes and protects the health, safety, and welfare of the communities that art therapy professionals serve
  • For prospective students, accreditation provides assurance the program has been evaluated and has met accepted standards established by and with art therapy stakeholders
  • For prospective employers, accreditation assures that the curriculum covers essential skills and knowledge needed for today's contemporary practices and healthcare trends
  • For graduates, accreditation represents an indicator of a program's quality and viability
  • For art therapists, accreditation involves practitioners in the establishment of standards and assures that educational requirements deliver essential services while inspiring adaptive and innovative approaches
  • For the faculty and program administrators, accreditation promotes ongoing program evaluation tools and practices for continuous improvement and accountability
  • For the University, college, department or program, accreditation represents peer recognition and sustainability

RETENTION RATES FOR ART THERAPY AND COUNSELING


 Graduation Year 
2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022
Admitted 16 15 11
Still Enrolled 3 4 6
Graduates 13 14 15
W/D Personal 0 0 0
W/D Academic 0 0 0
Retention Rate 100% 100% 100%

EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES FOR ART THERAPY AND COUNSELING


 Graduation Year 
2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022
Students Graduated 13 14 15
Graduates employed in field of study within 6 months of graduation 12 14 14
Students who continued to doctoral program or other education 1 0 0
Percent of students gainfully employed within 6 months of graduation 93.3% 100% 93.3%

Field Education

Field Education for Art Therapy and Counseling students
The number of practicum and internship (Field Education) hours provided by our Art Therapy and Counseling program meets the educational standards of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE) and often exceeds the hours required in most art therapy graduate programs.

  • In the two-year plan of study, students begin their field education experiences as soon as they enter the program. The field education parallels the classroom learning content, and both are enhanced by individual and group supervision every week.
  • In the three-year program plan of study option, students begin their practicum in their second year of the program.

Practicum Field Experience
All students have one to two practicum experiences that span over three quarters, either their first or second year. The first quarter clinical practicum is accompanied by a Counseling Skills course as well as small group supervision. The first practicum experience is one in which art therapy observation is gained through the direct experience of each student working with an art therapist who role models and supervises the students on what they are experiencing in various milieus and care systems. The degree of involvement in the art therapy process and responsibilities is tailored to the student's skill development, which is discussed in various supervision venues and concretized through evaluation processes. Depending on the site and supervisor availability, practicum student experiences may be gained in one to two different treatment settings during three academic quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring). The practicum locations, throughout Philadelphia, parts of New Jersey, and surrounding areas, are assigned by the Field Education Director and require that an art therapist be on-site with the student during the formative first year of applied experience.

Internship Field Experience
The second or third-year internship experience offers opportunities for students to mature and specialize as interns in a new field placement. With the guidance of the Field Education Director and art therapy educational requirements, students can self-choose an internship experience that can, but does not require an art therapist on-site. These internship experiences also span three-quarters of the school year (Fall, Winter, Spring) and have a three day a week commitment to provide the students more advanced and integrated responsibilities. When students choose an internship site where there is not a pre-existing art therapy service, they receive firsthand experience of developing their role and responsibilities with administrative support alongside off-site art therapy supervision and weekly small group supervision groups. Students selecting internships with pre-existing art therapy services also participate in on-site supervision and small group supervision groups for sustained learning and support.

Arts-Based Authentic Learning Formative Assessments
All practicum and internship students are required to keep written and visual journals that assist with developing observational skills as well as greater emotional and cognitive capacities to discern, tolerate, and understand the various internal experiences that emerge for an art therapist and counselor in training (these are shared and developed directly in small group supervision groups). Moreover, understanding these internal experiences alongside the observation of systems and milieu practices and lived experiences of clientele and groups, fundamentally inform the art therapy and counseling field education of each graduate student. Articulating and integrating these components over time and as distinct processes are key competencies. Attributes to such integrated learning can fall into many areas gained via processes of self-reflection and growth, interpersonal collaboration, and social learning such as:

  • critical and creative thinking;
  • group dynamics awareness;
  • ethical problem solving and intercultural communication;
  • cultural humility.

News & Events

Master's Student Jason Valdez Finds Community in Art Making

09/22/22

Master of Art Therapy and Counseling student Jason Valdez '20 standing with his parents at graduation.Since childhood, Jason Valdez has nurtured a passion for art making. Born in Dallas, Texas, Valdez came to Drexel University to pursue an undergraduate degree in art history. While studying, Valdez discovered dual interests in art and behavioral health counseling. Now enrolled in the College of Nursing and Health Professions master’s in Art Therapy and Counseling program, Valdez is building the future career of his dreams.

“I’ve always known that art is a big form of therapy for me,” says Valdez. “Before I came to Drexel, I didn’t know what art therapy was, as a profession, but I knew I wanted to create and engage with art in a way that helped people.”

While an undergrad, Valdez enrolled in WRIT 215: Story Medicine, a community-based learning class at Drexel taught in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The goal of the course is to teach creative writing to special populations, such as long-term care pediatric patients and children with disabilities. Valdez says that after the first day of the course, he discovered his purpose.

Master's of Art Therapy and Counseling student Jason Valdez squatting in front of a white board with alphabet letters spelling his name behind him..“From day one, I knew I loved this work. I worked with children in hospice care and taught them about how colors can correlate to mood. In some ways, it was basic art education, yet it had a much deeper resonance,” Valdez shares. “By the end of the course, I remember thinking: ‘I don’t know what any of this means yet, but this is what I want to do.”

After researching art therapy as a field, Valdez feels that he has found his professional sweet-spot. Part art making, part counseling and community-centered care, Valdez is thrilled for his future in the field and the opportunity to continue his studies at Drexel.

“Not everyone knows what art therapy is, and I have found a variety of definitions. These next three years in my master’s program will absolutely shape my perspective and I am excited to build something unique that will serve so many people in the future.”

In addition to his passion for art, Valdez is an advocate for the Latinx community at Drexel.

“When I first came to Drexel for my bachelor’s degree, I was very hesitant to express my Mexican-American culture. I had never been to Philadelphia before; I only knew Texas. I faced some difficult experiences at first,” Valdez admits. “I felt very alone during my first year. But I learned that trying to hide my culture wasn’t serving me. I needed to find people who could help me express who I am and share in my experiences, rather than diminish them.”

Master's of Art Therapy and Counseling student Jason Valdez standing with three fraternity brothers.During his junior year, Valdez joined Latino America Unida, Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity, Inc. (LAU), a Latinx based but not exclusive fraternity on Drexel’s campus. While there, Valdez found authentic connection and the community support he needed.

“When there are people on your side, it makes all the difference in the world,” Valdez comments, “We go above and beyond to support each other in this group. LAU has taught me that there is no way to be truly successful without embracing every aspect of yourself. It’s not just about academic success, but personal success as well.”

Reflecting on his journey at Drexel so far, Valdez says he is ready to lead.

“I want to carve a path for students like me,” he concludes. “I’ve been through it, and I want to be there for others. I used to think that sharing my culture would expose me and leave me vulnerable but now I know that it is the only way to authentically represent myself. By staying at Drexel, I hope that I can be a resource for others coming up. If I can ease this journey for even one person, I will feel that I have done a great job.”

Written by Izzy López

Open House Held in the New Health Sciences Building for CNHP Faculty and Staff

09/01/22

The new academic home of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel's Health Sciences Building.An open house on August 25, 2022 welcomed the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) faculty and staff to their new academic home, Drexel's Health Sciences Building. Attendees had the opportunity to take a self-guided tour of nursing and health profession labs and classrooms hearing about how these advanced spaces will augment the academic experience for all students. “We educate leaders for the future, we discover and create new knowledge, and we practice our individual disciplines in order to make the world a better place. Seeing you all here today reminds me of our greater purpose as a college to assure health, service and wellness for everyone, locally, nationally and globally,” announced Dean Laura N. Gitlin, PhD.

Before Provost Paul Jensen welcomed CNHP employees to University City, Gitlin gave the history of the land on which the building sits and the people connected to it. Jensen spoke about the importance of connecting many of the University’s health-related disciplines within the Health Sciences Building. He commented how excited the University is to have CNHP on main campus and espoused the benefits this 12-story, academic space offers the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and next year, the College of Medicine and School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies.Dean Laura N. Gitlin, PhD addressing attendees from the College of Nursing and Health Professions during an open house in the new Drexel Health Science Building.

CNHP’s interim dean, Ann Branchini, PhD, who holds a doctorate in nursing with a focus on leadership, took a few minutes to address attendees. Excited to step into this new home, Branchini is eager to get to work supporting students, faculty and professional staff. “This is a critical time in the history of CNHP, and I am excited about the opportunity we share to forge our identity and secure the future of our programs and our students on this campus,” Branchini articulated.

College of Nursing and Health Professions Interim Dean Ann Branchini, PhD holding a microphone during an open house in the new Drexel Health Science Building.With the support of university leadership, and Gitlin as its determined champion, the Health Sciences Building can offer opportunities for interdisciplinary education in a facility that affords students, faculty and professional staff the best possible environment for continued development and growth. Over 1,450 tradespeople participated in the building with over 11K cubic yards of concrete, 5K light fixtures, 600 wood door frames and so much more—everything remained on track, despite a global pandemic, because of the dedication of many teams. Gitlin recognized three individuals who were exceptional in their management: Mary Gallagher Gordon, PhD, vice dean of CNHP’s Strategic Operations and Academic Services, Terri Schmitt, director of Planning, and Nancy Trainer, associate vice president and university architect. “Our trio of mighty leaders has led through immeasurable uncertainty, going far above and beyond their job descriptions to make sure this space is exemplary for the Drexel community,” Gitlin stated.

Terri Schmitt and Mary Gallagher Gordon, PhD holding their recognition awards during the College of Nursing and Health Professions open house in the new Drexel Health Science Building.At the end of the event, Gitlin invited everyone there to take the self-guided walking tour previewing classrooms and labs where faculty and staff greeted groups and shared unique details of the spaces. The eight stops along the tour included a 300-person classroom where international speakers, distinguished lecture series and events that honor students, staff and faculty will be hosted; clinical spaces; Creative Arts Therapies teaching spaces; and a virtual reality classroom, a state-of-the-art room where CNHP students will learn and practice skills in a safe, immersive and realistic environments.

Distinctive lab spaces—SIM, Clinical Skills, Digital Anatomy and Imaging and Gross Anatomy labs—rounded out the tour. All are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and technology to enhance students’ hands-on educational experience. “The Health Sciences Building will support us in ushering in transformational opportunities for education and community engagement. This is the structure – but it is all about you and what you do – this beautiful new building is designed to enhance your purpose and everyday excellence,” concluded Gitlin.

Written by Roberta S. Perry

 

CNHP Graduation Highlights and Awards

06/21/22

Stack of graduation programs for Drexel UniversityThe weeks leading up to the Drexel’s 134th Commencement were full of celebrations. Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates from across the College of Nursing and Health Professions attended a host of CNHP and Drexel University events to recognize their accomplishments. Our nursing co-op students held their pinning ceremony, the Nutrition Sciences Department, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Graduate Nursing hosted celebrations, the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows met virtually to recognize those who completed the year-long program and the Creative Arts Therapies held their day-long Colloquia where student presented of their work.

Graduates wearing Drexel University caps and gowns at the College of Nursing and Health Professions graduation ceremonyOn the morning of June 9 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and with a focus on equity and purpose, Dean Laura Gitlin, PhD, welcomed graduating students, faculty, families, friends and guests to the first in-person graduation since 2019 saying, “We have all chosen lives that are, and will continue to be, motivated by an innate desire to make life better–to heal, a responsibility to serve and an obligation to advocate for those whose voices are not always heard or who do not receive equitable access to care throughout their life course.”

Gitlin asked for graduates to see their callings as a continuation or the College’s core values. “You have the obligation, opportunity and privilege to change the lives of individuals as well as systems of care—to develop new strategies, practices and policies in your respective fields and to address health inequities,” she asserted. She encouraged them to strive to provide person-centric care and to address what matters most to those for whom they care.

Zainab During, a master’s nursing student in Quality, Safety and Risk Management and a member of the Board of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, gave the student address. Born and raised in Sierra Leone, During used her own experience of civil war in her country to demonstrate what ambition and purpose will help one accomplish. “It is with that same mindset that I was able to thrive when I immigrated to the United States 13 years ago, with the goal of one day living the American dream,” she shared. “While this goal was abstract, it gave me hope and allowed me to continue nurturing my purpose,” During continued.

A group wearing Drexel University caps and gownsShe closed by stating what an honor it is to be graduating with the class of 2022 who she knows will do great things. “My fellow graduates, as a result of the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes acquired during the courses of our different programs, it is a privilege to follow our purpose and be given the opportunity to shine in our respective career paths.”

Gitlin introduced Melanie Cataldi, BS ’98, CNHP’s keynote speaker. Cataldi is a committed leader and collaborator for social justice with over 21 years of experience at Philabundance including founding the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK), a culinary arts workforce development training and employment program for adults who qualify for public assistance.

An experienced community impact strategist and a member of the 2022 People of Purpose, Cataldi began her address by referencing author and “unshakable optimist” Simon Sinek who talks a lot about “Finding Your Why.” “Your why is the thing that you give to the world, the thing that makes you who you are; it’s the fundamental core of what inspires you. My “why” is that I’m a Defender of People,” she shared. She has a superpower—seeing the big picture with the ability to develop, protect, motivate and move people forward toward a common goal.

Two females wearing blue and gold caps and gownsFollowing the themes spoken of by Gitlin and During, Cataldi talked about how interprofessional collaboration is the only way she sees to achieving both food and health equity. “The causes of health inequity are complex and interwoven. Anti-hunger organizations and affordable housing builders, public and private entities and academic institutions are all part of the solution,” Cataldi argued.

Acknowledging the structural and social determinants of health, like housing, education, transportation, and food, Cataldi stated that most people would argue that food and shelter are key among those because they represent the most basic of essential needs. From Cataldi’s perspective, food equity is part of the struggle of overall health equity. Looking at the last two years, what touches one affects all with long-lasting and pervasive repercussions, and what we have done to alleviate these wide-reaching problems isn’t working.

Two people wearing Drexel University caps and gownsBecause this work will neither be easy nor quick, Cataldi challenged our graduates to find their why. “I bet if I sat down with each of you, whether your focus is research or direct service, whether you studied nursing, health administration, health sciences, nutrition, hospitality management, culinary arts and food science, creative art therapies, counseling, physician assistance or physical therapy and rehabilitation science, we would find something that is congruent with making things better—for people, for families, for communities. It’s been my experience that really understanding your “why”, your superpower, and then leveraging that in collaboration with others, is the key to success in just about everything be it family dynamics, relationships in the workplace or reaching organizational goals,” concluded Cataldi.

Below is a list of award winners from around the College.

Dean's Awards

Nicholas Eltman, Dean’s Achievement Award
Melissa Fairfield, Dean’s Social Justice Award
June Maloney, Dean’s Clinical Service Award
Shel Myers, Dean’s Award

RN-BSN and Graduate Nursing Departments

Outstanding Graduate Award
Amy C. Plotts
Adriana Ava Banks
Kaitlin Balbo
Jillian Labatch
Anne Anderson
Vicki Zahos
Pam Hughes
Joncornel Kearney
Sarah Kendall
Stephanie Pileggi
Theodore A. Klitus
Erika Lockhart
Jessa Adiletto Lassor
Ashley Olszewski
Amy Elisabeth Elliott
Melissa Fairfield
Jordan Troxell
Amy Elizabeth Fafard

Thia Jackson Baugh, Online Student Recognition (RN-BSN)
Molly Laina Scott, Outstanding Achievement (RN-BSN)

Kristin Feightner, Kathleen Jennings-Dozier Memorial Award
Lindsey Ho, Joyce Lazzaro Lifelong Achievement Award
Emily Shaw, Hahnemann Hospital Nurse Alumnae Association Award

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Department

Dominic DeLaurentis, Clinical Education Award
June Maloney, Dragon Service Award
Brianna Wagner, Leadership Award
Natalia Oliveira, Health Equity and Social Impact Award
Drew Petersen, Scholarly Excellence Award
Kerri Yacovelli, PT, MSPT, OCS, Clinical Instructor Award

Creative Arts Therapies Department

Ming Yuan Low, PhD, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies Teaching Promise Award and Leadership Promise Awards
Brigette K. Schneible, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies Research Promise Award
Natalia Alvarez-Figueroa, Rachel Haimovich, Jonathon Jenkins and Cynthia Jones, Clinical Supervisors Award Lana Sommers, MA Leadership Award
James Lavino and Lydia Patselas, MA Artistry Award
Zevi B. Koretz, MA Service Award
Rachel Chang, Tahsina Miah and Carolina Millard, MA Clinical Excellence Award
Elizabeth Allen, MA Culminating Project
Briana Marsh, Nitasha Kang And Jennifer Willbanks, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award (JEDI)
Angela Kodokian, Lana Sommers and Taylor A. Sparks, MA Overall Achievement Award
Hayley Beck, The Dianne Dulicai Award for Dance/Movement Therapy

Alpha Eta Honor Society, the National Honor Society for the Allied Health Professions
Hayley Beck
Angela Kodokian
James Lavino
Ming Yuan Low
Tahsina Miah
Brigette Schneible
Lana Sommers
Taylor A. Sparks

Written by Roberta S. Perry

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