Elon Physician Assistant Class of 2024 celebrates progress at White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony celebrated the Elon Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2024, which will now transition to clinical training.

On Friday, Nov. 17, the 36 members of the Elon University Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2024 were recognized during the White Coat Ceremony in Whitley Auditorium.

Cindy Bennett, Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, right, hugs a student at the Elon University Physician Assistant Studies White Coat Ceremony, November 17, 2023, in Whitley Auditorium.

“As we gather here today, take this moment to celebrate the enormity of this accomplishment from our students. This is the time to reflect and appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in,” said C. Kim Stokes, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies.

Surrounded by family and loved ones, the Class of 2024 were presented with a white coat to symbolize both their entrance into the medical profession and a reminder of the ideas of honor and compassion.

The white coat was introduced into medical practice in the late 1880s with the advent of aseptic surgery, Dean of the School of Health Sciences Maha Lund told the students.

The white coat represents “life, purity and innocence” and underscores professionalism and the commitment to do no harm, Lund said as she reminded the students of Hippocrates’ urging to “practice our art in uprightness and honor.”

Elon University Physician Assistant Studies White Coat Ceremony, November 17, 2023, in Whitley Auditorium.

“Donning your white coat today represents an important step on your journey to becoming competent and compassionate physician assistants,” Lund said. “Wear it proudly as a symbol of service, compassion and humility — not as an emblem of arrogance or privilege.”

Elon’s Physician Assistant Studies program is a 24-month, full-time program that prepares its students to think critically and act skillfully to meet expanding health care needs in local and global communities. The 36 students in the Class of 2024 received their white coats and will transition to the clinical portion of the program for the next 12 months.

Class President Natalie Gadaleta G’24 and Vice President Sloan Horejsi G’24 addressed their classmates during the ceremony and stressed the importance of remembering this moment and all the hard work that went into making it a possibility.

Adjunct faculty member S. Dee Melnyk Evans delivered the keynote address and gave the students valuable pieces of advice as they head into the next chapter in their journeys to becoming physician assistants.

S. Dee Melnyk Evans, Pharm.D., MHS, CLS Elon PA Adjunct Faculty, Pharmacology, delivers the keynote address at the Elon University Physician Assistant Studies White Coat Ceremony, November 17, 2023, in Whitley Auditorium.

“I know I am preaching to the choir when I say the PA program is not a cakewalk. If you are sitting here today, it is because you demonstrated qualities and traits like resilience, leadership, motivation, professionalism, tenacity, grit and, last but not least, academic success,” Evans said.

Evans said that she has observed many admirable qualities from this cohort of physician assistant students. They were concerned about meeting the rigorous academic demands while also making connections with classmates and faculty, they showed up physically and mentally every day, and they were always excited to help the next person.

“I started off by thanking you for the opportunity to walk with you through this adventure and to learn from you,” she said. “I need you to hear that again — we learn from you.”

Evans told the students that they are now more knowledgeable than they have ever been. In completing their didactic requirements, the students have shown they have the necessary foundation of skills to become health care professionals that the world needs.

“Class of 2024 — individually, you are impressive but as a team, you helped each other to soar. This is the makings of a great clinician,” Evans said.

Elon Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2024

  • Amanda Ahmed
  • Tyler Arenas
  • Adyazbeth Barrientos Solis
  • Oshane Bent
  • Karlie Bousman
  • Brette Davis Gailes
  • Gabriella DeCoste
  • Summer Dunlap
  • Hannah Durkin
  • Natalie Flowers
  • Natalie Gadaleta
  • J.W. Gallina
  • Carentxa Goede
  • Kylie Haduck
  • Haley Harris
  • Troy Hightower
  • Sloan Horejsi
  • Catherine Ingland
  • Anthony Jericho
  • Dylan Kantor
  • Sam Kattiria
  • Maya LeeMaster
  • Lilly McGonegal
  • Ally McQueen
  • Mason Minor
  • Malavika Nair
  • Samantha Nawrocki
  • Sophie Newhouse
  • Linneah Olsen
  • Barbara Ramirez
  • Christina Saba
  • Jillian Salisbury
  • Blake Spurlock
  • Sapir Tabibi
  • Jordan Walker
  • Aimee Wheeler