Elon celebrates accomplishments of newest Doctor of Physical Therapy Program graduates

Forty-six students received their doctor of physical therapy degrees at a commencement ceremony in McCrary Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2018 Doctor of Physical Therapy Commencement

Elon University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program welcomed the Class of 2018 into the ranks of its alumni on Sunday as 46 students received degrees at the program’s annual commencement ceremony.

The commencement ceremony brought to a close the education these students have received at Elon, but marks a start for the lessons they will learn from scores of new teachers — their patients, said Kyle Covington, president of the N.C. Physical Therapy Association and associate professor and director of evaluation and admissions for Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Kyle Covington, president of the N.C. Physical Therapy Association, delivered the commencement address. 
​”Your best teachers are waiting for you in the clinic,” Covington told the new graduates. “They are ready to teach you, but at the same time they will demand far more than your faculty has demanded of you.”

Covington encouraged these new doctors of physical therapy to be content and present in the moment they are in, to be bold and to be courageous in the ways they approach their professional and personal lives. Covington said he’s learned the importance of these three goals from the patients he has encountered and the experiences he has shared with them. 

From Mary, who was recovering from a stroke, he learned to not lose sight of what is right before by always rushing to tackle the next thing or seek out the next goal. “Don’t forget to be content in your individual moments of life,” Covington said. “No matter how things feel or how unsure you are, you’re right where you are supposed to be. Wherever that is, you will learn things, you will help people, you’ll change the lives of the patients you serve. You will do all of that better if you let yourself realize in each moment that someone there needs you in that place and time and situation.”

Covington recounted how he was working with a patient named Seth, who has lost the ability to walk. Seth’s mother, who had cared for him for so long, was reluctant to try new therapies such as attempting to walk on the treadmill, due in part to a fear he could be hurt, which would make caring for him even more challenging. But one day when Seth’s mother went out to the car, Covington took Seth to the treadmill for the first time, and with much assistance, he started to walk. He turned to see Seth’s mother, her eyes filled with proud tears and a smile on her face.  

​”The lesson here is to be bold. Don’t be brash — be bold,” Covington said. “There will be many times in your career your patients, their family or your colleagues will need your measured and careful boldness. Don’t use it unless you know it’s right … But at just the right moment, make the decision that you know is best for those around you, but that you also know they can not make for themselves.”

Finally, Covington recalled a time when he was the patient, learning about a large tumor in his brain that encircled the internal carotid artery, making a wide range of therapies very risky. From many caregivers, he saw “the same looks of uncertainty I am sure I had given my own patients countless times.”

But from others, he saw the “unbelievable courage” to care for him, offer him compassion and support, and to admit that though they didn’t have all the answers, they were there for him. 

“Your patients will need you to muster the courage to care for them, provide them support and offer honesty when you yourself may be struggling to do so,” Covington said. “They need your courage becasue often they won’t have their own.”

This newest class of graduates of Elon’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program arrived at commencement after a three-year journey that included building knowledge in the classroom, honing skills in clinical settings and making preparations for careers as physical therapists. From here, they will go on to serve in a wide variety of clinical settings across the country and around the world. 

“We trust that Elon has built your character as well as your skills, and you are leaving with a sense of integrity that will be part of your practice and your life,” said Provost Steven House. 

Commencement offered the chance to commend those who stand out for their achievements in the classroom, the lab and the clinical setting. The ceremony included the presentation of the following awards to members of the Class of 2016 and to a member of the program clinical instruction team: 

  • Outstanding Research Award — Carlie Huberman
  • Outstanding Service Award — Nate Thompson
  • Outstanding Clinical Performance Award — Colten Sullivan
  • Overall Outstanding Student — Emily Messerschmidt
  • Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award — Stephanie Ray G’13 PT
  • Rising Alumni Award — Tiffany Adams G’10 PT

In her charge to the graduating class, President Connie Ledoux Book talked about the pride the university has in its newest graduates. 

“I want to remind you that you will never truly leave Elon,” Book said. “As an alum, your future and the future of Elon are forever connected.”

Candidates for the Doctor of  Physical therapy degree

Kody A. Brandt
B.S., Central Washington University

Campbell Parks Brown
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rebecca Marie Bryant
B.S., North Carolina State University

Rebecca Isabel Brevé Cardona
B.A., Manhattanville College

Lauren Elizabeth Cates
B.S., North Carolina State University

Rachel Ann Cherry
B.S., The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Michelle Christine Fadool
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jhonelle S.R. Francis
B.S., Georgia State University

Erica Nicole Geisler
B.S., University of Indianapolis

Chloe Alexandra Giordano
B.S., Bowling Green State University

Devan Michael Groulx
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Lindsey A. Grove
B.S., Oregon State University

Haley Elizabeth Hawkins
B.S., Elon University

Matthew David Hinshaw
B.S., Michigan State University

Carlie Bromer Huberman
B.A., American University

Laura Martin Joyce
B.S., East Carolina University

Andrew Lee Kuyper
B.A., Appalachian State University

Leah Elizabeth Lawrin
B.S., Hope College

Ryan James Lee
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lindsey Rebecca Lewis
B.S., Appalachian State University

Rebecca Lin
B.S., Lenoir-Rhyne University

Jared Richard Locke
B.A., Newbery College

Stephanie Marie Manning
B.S., University of Delaware

Bailey Elizabeth McNees
B.A., Naropa University

Emily Lauren Messerschmidt
B.S., Elon University

Rebecca Kate Mitchell
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shannon Ashleigh Moree
B.S., Elon University

Amanda Michelle Neuhauser
B.S, University of Kentucky

Danielle Atkins Nunn
B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University

Autumn Rose Oostindie
B.A., Calvin College

Maggie Renae Parker
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Shagun Pradeep Patel
B.S., The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Whitney Nicole Rodgers
B.S., East Carolina University

Amanda Marie Schultz
B.S., Wayne State University

Sara Louise Sharp
B.S., Clemson University

Jacob Branson Shepherd
B.S., Catawba College

Colten Briar Sullivan
B.S., Eastern Washington University

Coty Lee Thomas
B.S., Brigham Young University – Idaho

Nathaniel Lee Thompson
B.S., Liberty University M.B.A, Liberty University

Caroline Hayes Tobin
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Katlyn Pearl Van Patten
B.A., Valdosta State University

Stephen Mark van Rij
B.A.S., Columbia Basin College

Mary Annelise Weir
B.S., Furman University

William Avery Wheless
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Cara Ann Wilck
B.S., Davidson College

Meagan Lynn Workman
B.S., Campbell University