PA program celebrates sixth graduating class

Dr. David Tillman

The sixth cohort of Campbell’s PA program gathered in Butler Chapel on Friday to receive their long white coats. Part of a two-day graduation celebration, the Long White Coat Ceremony recognizes the new graduates’ entry into the medical field by awarding them professional attire. To make the event more special, each student selects a family member, friend, or mentor to help them don the coat during the ceremony.

This year’s White Coat Address was given by PA alumni Rahul Desai (’14), who currently serves as a pulmonary/critical care medicine PA with Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“Beyond just a uniform or a marker to the outside world of your job and title, the coat is a symbol of the privilege to treat and heal, of the promise to soothe and care, and of the professionalism and humanitarianism that embodies the soul of our profession,” said Desai. 

Chair and Director of the PA program, Betty Lynne W. Johnson, also addressed the class.

“You have been called to serve,” said Johnson. “Your purpose is to practice the science and art of healing. Today’s ceremony is the time we reserve to consecrate you to this mission. Your covenant has been established, you are now commissioned to fulfill your promise.”

As part of the presentation of the coats, Johnson and Campus Minister Rev. Faith Beam blessed the hands of the students. Students were charged to embrace their calling with gratitude, grace, humility and passion. After each student had received their coat and blessing, associate professor and director of pre-clinical education Pete Fenn led the cohort in the Physician Assistant Oath.

The weekend drew to a close on Saturday with Campbell’s 132nd summer commencement ceremony. Provost Mark L. Hammond conferred the degree of Master of Physician Assistant Practice on 43 students.

“You are coming out of one of the top programs, not only in North Carolina, but in the country,” Hammond said. “The certification exams are proof of that, but we also know you are at the top from having engaged with you on campus and in the clinical environment.”

Dr. David Tillman, chair and director of Public Health, gave the graduation address, encouraging students to act with determination, take care of themselves to remain whole and well, recognize that people can handle the truth, and not to confuse planning with purpose.

“Everything working out according to plan is not exactly the same as everything working out according to purpose,” said Tillman. “Plans are great, but sometimes you need to seize the purpose-filled opportunities you have never considered before.”

Johnson provided the weekend’s closing remarks.

“Your task is complete and your dream has come true,” she told students. “I challenge you to live in the moment and be mindful of this gift and embrace this day. We are so proud of you!”


Awards and Honors

Gore Center for Servant Leadership – Jerry M. Wallace Interprofessional Servant Leadership Fellowship
Dorothy “Dorrie” Swanson and Amardeep Daisy Kaur

Pi Alpha Honor Society
Hien Behnke
Rebecca Carter
Sheena Cooper
Daisy Kaur                                                                  
Melissa Oliver
Amanda Taylor
Dorrie Swanson

Outstanding Service Award
Amanda Harrison and Heather McBryde

Excellence in Professionalism Award
Amanda Taylor

Oustanding Clinical Performance Award
Hien Behnke and Daisy Kaur

Jerry M. Wallace Legacy Award
Dorothy “Dorrie” Swanson

Director’s Award
Vasile “Vasi” Oros

2018 Honorary PA Award
Rodney “Rod” Hipwell, CPHS Senior Admissions Counselor