Commencement Activities and Celebrations
July 5, 2017
Producing a commencement ceremony honoring all our graduates is a huge undertaking, months in the making and includes many, many volunteers, but it pales in comparison to the work the College of Nursing and Health Professions graduates did to earn their seat at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on June 12, 2017. Drexel University Provost Brian Blake, PhD
welcomed our graduates and all who taught, nurtured and supported them along the way including their family and friends who made up their greatest support network. He commented about CNHP graduates having a higher level of capacity for knowledge, innovation and most importantly, for service to others. That theme, so deeply embedded in the curriculum of all the programs in the College, was highlighted in the speeches given by student speaker Kimberly Allen and Sueann Navarez-Brown and David Baiada, who delivered the commencement address.
Allen stated how humbling it is to be part of a person’s most difficult and vulnerable moments and how important it is to empower patients or clients to make the choices that matter the most to them. “Drexel’s programs have educated us to promote social justice and healthcare equality as we serve our clients in the various wellness/health pathways,” she articulated. She acknowledged that it is necessary to be skilled to be able to perform, but that it is far more important to choose to be present in each and every moment while with clients, to choose to be in service of others.
Navarez-Brown, in her speech, noted that both faculty and classmates assisted each other in becoming the best they each could be by providing outstanding support and encouragement. However, sometimes it did require a gentle and loving push. Benefitting from the confidence professors and fellow students had in each other, she concluded that they are skilled and determined, able to learn from failure and equipped with a sense of service and success.
Nowhere is service to others better explained than in the keynote speech delivered by David Baiada
. Baiada is the incoming CEO of BAYADA Home HealthCare
, a company that brings vital services into homes across 23 states, India, Germany, South Korea and Ireland. Their staff of 50,000 nurses, home health aides, therapists, medical social workers and other healthcare professionals live the mission, vision and beliefs — the BAYADA Way
— while caring for their patients. They put their clients first. They value their employees and they believe in building relationships based on trust, compassion, honesty and service. Baiada told a story of a client he called Mr. Jones who he visited in his West Philadelphia apartment.
Mr. Jones is an elderly man who, because of cerebral palsy, relies on his electric wheelchair as his lifeline to the outside world. When Baiada arrived for a visit, Mr. Jones took a while to answer the door as his wheelchair was inoperable and he was forced to drag himself with the use of his walker. Baiada carried him back into his apartment and helped him get situated all the while Mr. Jones, clearly agitated, ranted about his frustration. In order for him to safely stay independent and in his home, he uses BAYADA for his Medicaid-funded home health services. When his aide Mary arrived, who is completely in tune with his needs and anxieties, Mr. Jones was finally able to calm down. Mr. Jones is someone who represents so many of the BAYADA clients who struggle day-to-day living because of disease or illness and Mary represents the thousands of people who bring their clients comfort and compassion and facilitate a better quality of life for them.
The collaboration and coordination of care people have come to expect from BAYADA is most successfully achieved through interprofessional
work. And Baiada noted that that kind of practice is purposely taught and demonstrated at CNHP because it is what is needed when dedicated to serving others. He learned many lessons over his career at kitchen tables in apartments like Mr. Jones’, but Baiada chose three to share with graduates.
- Listen closely, show empathy and respond to the needs of others. Helping others starts with a willingness to listen, connect, and tune in. Your perception of their goals and needs might be biased or distorted by your own preferences, Making the most meaningful impact is dependent on your willingness to take the time to sit at the proverbial kitchen table and listen.
- Set specific goals and work hard and efficiently to achieve them.There is no more powerful force than a clear goal. You all are here because you set a goal to get your degree, and now as you look ahead, what will your next goal be? I challenge you to think big, write it down, think about it often. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish once you put it out there.
- Be creative, flexible and determined. Reaching your goals will not come easy. Like the patients and clients we care for, ups and downs are inevitable. But I always find that those that are willing to think differently, adapt to change with an unrelenting determination will inevitably overcome almost any obstacle.
Compassion, excellence and reliability are elements of The BAYADA Way and they are also what so many have learned as students in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
Provost Blake, before introducing Susan Smith, PhD, interim dean, affirmed that the world needs those who received their diplomas that day citing that the long-term health and prosperity as a society depends on how graduates use their education.
Smith thanked graduates for the privilege of learning from them, mentoring them and working alongside them for as long as they had been at Drexel. She acknowledged University administrators and Stephen Sheller, a prominent Philadelphia attorney and Drexel University trustee. Smith thanked both Sheller and his wife Sandra, a creative arts therapies and couple and family therapy alumna, for their support of the College and the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University before presenting him with a gift for his service as a trustee.
Honoring accomplishment and excellence continued as exceptional academic achievement was recognized. Students designated Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude, as well as Pennoni Honors College students and the recipient of the Harold W. Pote “Behind Every Graduate” Award
where acknowledged before the specific award winners were announced.
- Harold W. Pote “Behind Every Graduate” Award – Donald Little of Pennsbury High School
- College-level Outstanding Promise Award – Kendra Ray, PhD (Creative Arts Therapies) and Anniliese Marie Kummerle, MS in Human Nutrition
- Teaching Assistant Excellence Award and Outstanding Civic Engagement – Leah Tsui, MS in Human Nutrition and Jessica Liu, MS in Human Nutrition
- Outstanding Civic Engagement – Corinne L. Ellis, MS in Human Nutrition
- Dean’s Award – Anne E. Woolley, BSN
- Achievement Award – John Ghee, MHS
- Community Service Award – Kevin Carrasquillo, BS in Nutrition and Foods
- Clinical Service Award – Nahidah R. Rahman, BS in Health Sciences
- Social Justice Research Award – Mariya Kesselman, MA in Art Therapy and Counseling
Graduates names were announced by Yasmine Awais, Beth Leonberg, Virginia Wilson, and Drs. Theresa Campo, Nancy Gerber, Stella Lucia Volpe and Linda Wilson with Dr. Michael Bruneau and Lauren Karch assisted with distribution of the scrolls.
Doctoral graduates earning degrees in Couple and Family Therapy, Creative Arts Therapies, Nursing, Health Science in Rehabilitation Sciences, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences were hooded by their supervising professors first. Then graduates earning Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling, Master of Arts in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling, Master of Arts in Music Therapy and Counseling, Master of Family Therapy, Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Science (Physician Assistant), Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Master of Science in Nursing (Advance Practice and Nurse Practitioner) were escorted to the stage. They were followed by the graduates who earned Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Counseling, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods. Once all graduated has been announced, an alumna for the classes of `90, `92 and `99 greeted the newest alumni — a long-standing tradition – to the more than 25,000 CNHP alumni.
To conclude a week of celebrations, CNHP participated in the University-wide commencement ceremony at Citizens Bank Park
in the evening of June 13. All schools and colleges had the opportunity to hear the inspiring words of John Maeda
— the global head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic
, the parent company of Jetpack, WooCommerce, Longreads, WordPress.com and more. The night was capped off by a exciting display of fireworks sending Drexel’s newest alumni out in to the world to leave their marks for the betterment of society.