“The Real Test Starts Now”
Class of 2017 Celebrate at SHS Graduation
434 students celebrated their graduation from Touro College School of Health Sciences on September 12. The ceremony, held at the Tilles Center in Brookville, NY, included graduates from the doctor of physical therapy, post-professional physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, physician assistant, and nursing programs at SHS, as well as undergraduate studies.
Patricia Salkin, provost of the graduate and professional divisions of Touro College, noted the solemnity of the preceding day and the many lives lost during 9/11. Many first-responders were among the casualties.
“They threw themselves into action, not even thinking for a second about their safety,” Provost Salkin stated, before turning her remarks to the assembled graduates, many of whom will work in the healthcare field. “Class of 2017 you have my utmost admiration and respect. You have dedicated yourselves to fields that serve others. And because of your professional oath, you are committing to living your life in a selfless manner. You are caregivers.”
Rabbi Moshe Krupka, executive vice president of Touro College & University System, delivered the invocation and brief remarks to the graduates.
“The real test starts now,” he told the crowd of several hundreds. “You will have to demonstrate that you learned the sciences and professions for which you have trained. Most importantly, the test will be whether you have learned and absorbed the integrity, the ethics, and reverence for life that this institution has sought to instill in you.”
SHS Dean Louis Primavera praised the graduates, faculty members and the administration that organized the ceremony. He encouraged the graduates to stay in touch with their alma mater.
“When you go out into the world as healthcare professionals think often of us,” Dean Primavera stated. “Touro is more than a school; it is a family.”
Dr. Joseph Tommasino, chair of the SHS PA program, introduced keynote speaker James F. Cawley, MPH, PA-C. Cawley is a professor and past chair of the Department of Prevention and Community Health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and a professor of Physician Assistant Studies at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at The George Washington University.
Cawley began his speech by noting that he is a graduate of the first class of the Touro physician assistant program.
“I was a young bumpkin from Central Pennsylvania and somehow I got accepted to the Touro College PA program.” he said to laughter. “I had rarely been out of Altoona Pennsylvania and certainly I had never been to Brooklyn.”
Cawley attended John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for an MPH in infectious disease epidemiology. He held faculty appointments at John Hopkins, Stony Brook University and Yale University School of Medicine; Cawley co-authored four books and published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles.
“The quality of my education prepared me well,” said Cawley. “It couldn’t be a greater honor to give the commencement address at my alma mater.”
Cawley offered several pieces of advice to the future practitioners and stressed focusing on the mission of healthcare instead of its commercial aspects.
“Help us to change the healthcare system,” Cawley exhorted. “Be an advocate for health, not necessarily for more healthcare. Reduce the demand for healthcare by being a consistent and coordinated promoter of health… Advocate for seeing patients as people.”
“You are future healthcare providers, a venerable calling since the beginning of time,” stated Cawley. This privilege allows you to enter into a most intimate relationship with your patients and to help them in a most fundamental way. It is no small thing to be involved in curing disease and alleviating suffering. Remember that the privilege of practicing healthcare brings responsibilities as well as rewards.”
“Touro was such a warm and unique environment,” said Ephrat Alon, a graduate of the SHS speech language pathology program. “When I look back at what my classmates and I accomplished, I realize we climbed a mountain. I want to find a job that pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets me excited every morning.”
“It’s hard to believe it’s really over,” reckoned DPT student Ashley Houck who received an offer to be an in-house physical therapist for travelling dance troupe. “I’m going to miss all my friends.”