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Elon graduates its newest class of medical healers

Thirty-seven candidates in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program received degrees Sunday in a Whitley Auditorium ceremony featuring remarks by Cynthia Booth Lord, past president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.


Trade quantity of life for quality of life. Financial gain for future potential. Acceptable for excellence. Security for significance.

Elon University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2016 also heard Sunday that trading immediate pleasure for personal growth, and “addition for multiplication,” will bring personal fulfillment throughout their healthcare careers.

Thirty-seven graduates of the Elon PA Program celebrated a successful conclusion to their studies on March 6, 2016, in a Whitley Auditorium program that featured a Commencement address by a former president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Cynthia Booth Lord, the founding director of Case Western Reserve University’s Physician Assistant Program and former director of Quinnipiac University’s program, encouraged graduates to never forget “the art” of medicine at a time when the science of medicine gives the notion of a technological treatment for anything.

Outside of direct patient care, investing in the success of others multiplies the strength of their future networks: both their own personal networks, and the future of the profession. Lord reminded students in the Class of 2016 not to forget those who have mentored them during their studies

Do the same for others. “Mentoring,” she said, “is your true legacy.”

A noted physician assistant educator and an advocate for primary care, Lord has a distinguished career of serving in leadership roles within the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Most recently, Lord served as AAPA board president and was chairman of the board from 2008-2010. She also was the co-organizer of the first annual student Medical Challenge Bowl sponsored by the Association of Physician Assistant Programs.

Lord has received numerous awards, including the ConnAPA President’s Award, the Connecticut Kidney Foundation Special Recognition Award, the Quinnipiac University PA Program Academic Teaching Award, the 2008 Quinnipiac Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students Award, Business New Haven 2011 Healthcare Hero Award, the AAPA 2012 Outstanding PA of the Year PAragon Award and the 2014 Connecticut Oral Health Initiative Oral Health Champion Award.

Elon University’s 27-month PA program engages students through an innovative systems-organized curriculum that employs large and small group discussion, hands-on clinical skills labs, simulated patient experiences, lecture and patient scenario discussions. A Master’s Project supports and promotes professional development in the area of accessing, critically appraising and applying the best available evidence to address a research, patient care or policy question relevant to Physician Assistant practice or education.

The clinical education phase consists of seven required rotations and two electives at clinical sites throughout the central area of North Carolina.

Elon PA Program leaders recognized the contributions of community partners who make it possible for students to take part in clinical rotations. Leaders paid special note at the ceremony of the Alamance-Caswell County Medical Society for its support and welcome of students in the local community.

Degrees conferred by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert at the Commencement program were presented by Elon Provost Steven House, with Patricia Ragan, the department chair and program director, and Diana Duffy, assistant professor and director of clinical education, awarding the diplomas.

The program’s graduates are among the most educated in the world, Lambert said in his charge to graduates at the conclusion of the ceremony. Their work at the university serves as a powerful example of what can happen when engaged learning and compassionate care come together.

“I charge you to carry your own lamps of Numen and Lumen, spiritual and intellectual light, into the world, to bring light to darkened places,” Lambert said. “A commitment to excellence demands that you challenge mediocrity. A passion for a life of learning calls on you to continually seek the truth. Exemplifying personal integrity means taking the hard and unpopular road sometimes. Truly respecting human difference calls on you to love your neighbor as yourself.”

“As you do these things, you will represent Elon and your profession to the world.”

Candidates for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Morgan Mixon Armstrong
B.S., Presbyterian College

Jennifer Lynn Beard
B.A., North Carolina State University
B.S., North Carolina Central University

G. Alan Benda Jr.
B.S., The Citadel

Rebecca Faith Cooper
B.S., Salem College

Vincent J. Costella
B.S., Sacred Heart University

Marah Ann Czaja
B.A., Berea College

Sara Elizabeth Duvall
B.S., James Madison University

Matthew M. Eveland
B.S., Northeastern University

Keely Reichel Gerrald
B.S., Clemson University

Analise Keaton Godfrey
B.S., James Madison University

Melissa Erin Gordon
B.S., Ohio University

Jordan L. Hausladen
B.S., Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Emily Amber Johnson
B.S., Western Carolina University

Michelle Christine Johnson
B.A., University of Richmond

Betsy Clifton Joyner
B.S., North Carolina State University

Jacqueline Kocot
B.S., Lehigh University

Henry Calvin Martensen III
B.A., Colorado College

James Lance McGhee
B.S., North Carolina State University

Stephanie Mariah Meiners
B.A.,B.S., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jade Ray Morse
B.S., James Madison University

Sarah Michelle Nelson
B.S., High Point University

Eleanor Anne Crawford Nicklas
B.S., Clemson University

Justin Pike Ollis
B.S., High Point University
M.Ed., Belmont University

Brittany Maria Pjetraj
B.A., University of South Carolina

Aaron Taylor Powell
B.A., University of South Carolina

Rebecca Stone Ramey
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Stephanie Marie Reese
B.S., University of Pittsburgh

Cari Susann Richards
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Carys A. Roberts
B.A., Elon University

Isaac Peter Stappas
B.S., Long Island University

Jessica Ivy Stevenson
B.S., Western Carolina University

Joshua Oliver Storm
B.S., Randolph-Macon College

Mary Knight Stuckey
B.S., Clemson University

Leisa Renee Tapia
B.S., Brigham Young University - Hawaii

Waqas Tariq
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Michael Andrew Tillery
B.S., Gardner-Webb University

Katherine Colby Werner
B.S., Union College

Eric Townsend,
3/6/2016 4:15 PM