Doctor of Physical Therapy Commencement honors Class of 2019

Sharon Dunn, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, urged Elon Doctor of Physical Therapy students to "seize the moment" during the program's 2019 Commencement ceremony.

The Elon Doctor of Physical Therapy program celebrated the Class of 2019 for three years of hard work and dedication during its Commencement ceremony on Dec. 7.

Forty-six graduates received their diplomas and doctoral hoods in front of an auditorium full of family and friends at Elon’s McCrary Theatre.

Elon DPT graduates cheer on classmates as they are awarded their diplomas and doctoral hoods.

The three-year, full-time Doctor of Physical Therapy program emphasizes a patient-centered approach to the profession. The program includes science, research and 48 weeks of hands-on clinical practicums to reinforce what students learn in the classroom.

Sharon Dunn, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, presented the ceremony’s keynote speech, urging graduates to “seize the moment” as they leave Elon to begin their careers.

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“Life is filled with critical instants,” Dunn told the graduates. “Those moments that have the potential to change your life or even change the world. Some are fleeting, some are duds, but some will even take your breath away. Today marks one such moment, one that signifies your faculty having enough confidence to unleash your class upon the public; one that marks a moment of transition across this threshold toward possibilities and potential.”

Dunn, who is associate professor and dean of the School of Allied Health Professions at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, reminded graduates about the importance of humility in the field of physical therapy.

“If you will always put people first, and most importantly your patients’ needs ahead of your own, you will never go wrong,” Dunn said. “When we do focus on our patients and stay in the moment with them, we make an extraordinary difference in their lives.”

Sharon Dunn, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, gives the keynote address during the Elon DPT Commencement ceremony.

Dunn also discussed the history of physical therapy in America, which dates back to the first World War, and stressed the need for new ideas to advance the field. She encouraged the room of Elon DPT graduates to be brave professionals who make positive changes in the industry and the world.

“Your moment is now,” Dunn said. “I have high expectations about what your generation can do for this profession, but more importantly for society, as you reinvent and renew our profession’s potential to contribute to societal health.”

The ceremony also included recognition for the program’s outstanding graduates. Faculty members presented four awards to students nominated and selected by their instructors and peers.

The department honored Kailey Trieger DPT ’19 and Chelsea Martin DPT ’19 with the Outstanding Research Award. Michelle Jamin was recognized for her exceptional altruism with the program’s 2019 Outstanding Service Award. The Outstanding Clinical Performance Award was presented to Lexi Byrd DPT ’19, and Kaylee Pobocik DPT ’19 was named the 2019 Overall Outstanding Student.

Becky Neiduski, dean of the School of Health Sciences, presents a graduate with a doctoral hood.

Each of the 46 graduates in attendance received their diploma from Elon President Connie Ledoux Book and a doctoral hood from Becky Neiduski, dean of the School of Health Sciences. The hoods donned the colors jade, maroon and gold – jade to represent the field of physical therapy, and maroon and gold to represent the graduates’ Elon education.

Following the hooding ceremony, Book issued a charge to the graduates, encouraging them to carry the education and values they gained at Elon as they go on with their professional and personal lives, and to persevere through their future challenges.

“I charge you to be resilient, steadfast, like the mighty oaks for which Elon is named,” Book said.

The ceremony also honored Elon DPT alumni and distinguished faculty for their work in the field.

Michael Bourassa DPT’10 was honored with the Rising Alumni Award. Bourassa, a board-certified orthopedic specialist, is an assistant professor and director of the orthopedic residency and Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists fellowship programs at East Tennessee State University, where he teaches within the musculoskeletal, basic physical therapy skills and musculoskeletal imaging curriculum.

Mary Kay Hannah, assistant professor of physical therapy education, congratulates two Elon DPT graduates following the ceremony.

Stacia Britton ’04 DPT ’06 received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Britton is a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist and certified expert on exercise for aging adults. She is currently an assistant professor and academic coordinator of clinical education in the Department of Physical Therapy at Methodist University. Britton is also the president of the Sandhills District of the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association and serves on the board of directors of the state chapter.

The Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award was presented to Flavia Mowlanejad, adjunct professor in the Department of Physical Therapy Education. She has worked in pediatric outpatient rehabilitation for Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital since 2005 and is part of a multi-disciplinary neonatal intensive care unit developmental clinic.

2019 Graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Riley L. Beck, B.S., Catawba College

Haley Alexandra Becker, B.S., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Karen K. Blackburn, B.S., The University of Georgia

Julie Caroline Hibberd Brace, B.S., Elon University

Hannah C. Buckingham, B.S., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Lexi Nicole Byrd, B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Monica Michelle Cardona, B.S., University of South Carolina, Aiken

Kahli Marie Castagnera, B.S., Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Logan Edward Chaffin, B.S., Wilmington College – Ohio

Lauren Brownlee Copper, B.S., Elon University

Shane William Courtney, B.S., Lenoir-Rhyne University

Hannah Marie Ennis Cunningham, B.S., Winthrop University

Lauren Elaine Graham, B.S., West Virginia Wesleyan College

Kelsey Marie Hocevar, B.S., The Ohio State University

Kayla Dale Holder, B.S., Elon University

Brianna Nicole Hurt, B.S., Howard University, M.S., American University

Chioma Nneamaka Ichoku, B.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Whitney Rose Biddle Jaffe, B.S., Pfeiffer University

Michelle Angela Jamin, B.S., The University of Maryland – College Park

Zachary Austin Knox, B.S., Anderson University – South Carolina

Darrin C. La Forge, B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Danielle Nicole Lashlee, B.S., Clemson University

Jonathan Michael Little, B.S., Murray State University

Douglas Thanh MacCallum, B.S., California State University – Long Beach

Christian Patrick Manhard, B.S., Appalachian State University

Brianna Lynn Marino, B.S., Elon University

Chelsea Leonard Martin, B.S., University of Louisville

Taylor N. McMaster, B.S., The University of Tulsa

Kara Teague McNeill, BSPH, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Ryan Christopher Molinaro, B.S., Elon University

Madison Chase Mitchell Moon, B.S., Asbury University

Micah Joel Munoz, B.S., Murray State University

Allison Marie O’Halloran, B.S., North Carolina State University

Kaylee Michelle Pobocik, B.S., University of New England

Cara Nicole Poole, B.S., Monmouth University

Cailyn Marissa Pozella-Burling, B.S., Guilford College

Joshua Wade Robbins, B.S., High Point University

Sarah Elizabeth Russell, B.S., University of Virginia

Laura Ann Shelton, B.S., Belmont Abbey College

Joseph Frank Sperlak, B.S., University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, M.S., Mississippi State University

Emily Anne Stefan, B.S., The University of Mount Union

Christine M. Tassitino, B.S., Appalachian State University

Kailey Genevieve Trieger, B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Alyssa Leigh Thomas Williams, B.S., Shaw University

Ann Marie Nunnelee Wilson, B.S., Elon University A.B., Elon University

Andria Jamila Wilson, B.S., University of South Carolina, Columbia

Trishia Tomoka Yada, B.S., Western Washington University