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Celebrating the Class of 2016

Congratulations, graduates!

Rain clouds threatened and then withdrew as the Class of 2016 celebrated the 155th Washington University Commencement ceremony. In addition to all-university Commencement on the Danforth Campus, graduates were honored at their programs’ individual recognition ceremonies during events Thursday, May 19, and Friday, May 20, 2016.

Meet the Class Acts »


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All-university Commencement

Washington University recognized all 2,970 graduating students at the universitywide ceremony Friday morning on the Danforth Campus. Civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John R. Lewis gave the Commencement address, calling on graduates to get into what he called good trouble, necessary trouble: “You have a moral obligation, a mission, a mandate, to do your part.”

Lewis was among five honorary-degree recipients. Another honorary degree recipient was Staffan Normark, MD, who was head of the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine from 1989 to 1993.

For the first time, the all-university ceremony included an address from a graduate student, Ashley Macrander, who received a doctorate in education in Arts & Sciences.

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Doctor of Medicine programs

The 2016 Commencement ceremony was the first for David H. Perlmutter, MD, as executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. At the MD ceremony, Perlmutter urged graduates to approach their profession with humanity: “Deal with uncertainty. Criticize yourself and your approaches. And practice with kindness and empathy – kindness that is based on what your patients believe is best for them, even if it is different from what you believe.”

Perlmutter also stressed the importance of continued learning to keep up with a profession in which change is constant.

In the keynote address, physician, alumnus and mountain climber Thomas F. Hornbein, MD, drew parallels between summiting Mount Everest, “the highest metaphor on Earth,” and pushing medicine forward.

Mark S. Wrighton

In his address, Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, PhD, told graduates that advancing human health is among the university’s most important endeavors.

The MD Class of 2016 includes 92 graduates, 19 of whom earned combined medical degrees and PhDs. Twenty-nine graduates will complete some or all of their residency training at Washington University-affiliated programs, including Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. (See program for a list of all graduates and award recipients.)

Audiology & Communication Sciences programs

The Program in Audiology & Communication Sciences awarded master’s and doctoral degrees to 23 graduating students.

Graduates included Amelia Nicole Owen, recipient of the Antoinette Frances Dames Award; Alyssa Jo Pursley, recipient of the Max A. Goldstein Award; Alison Marie Olivo and Brittany Marie Wallace, who received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award; and Kaylie Rene Dahl and Stephanie Anne Farber of the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honors Society.

In addition, doctoral candidate Carmen Valero-Aracama was recognized at the Latino Recognition Ceremony at Washington University on Wednesday, May 18. Valero-Aracama was profiled this spring as a “Class Act” graduate.

Physical Therapy programs

The Program in Physical Therapy awarded 75 graduates with doctoral degrees in a ballroom ceremony at St. Louis’ Chase Park Plaza. Among the graduates were Yewande Apatira and Anne Crowe, recipients of the Director’s Award; John Huang, recipient of the Steven J. Rose Research Award; and Andrew Kupper, who was recognized for excellence in clinical education with the Beatrice Schulz Award.

Sharon Dunn, PhD, president of American Physical Therapy Association, addressed the graduates and told them that “the precious moments with patients make it worth it.”

Faculty speaker Mary Hastings, DPT, MSCI, told graduates she knew they worked incredibly hard and always aimed for perfection. “Get rid of perfection,” she urged; “sometimes good enough is okay. You are worth it.”

The PT faculty then stunned the delighted graduates, joining Hastings on stage to sing and dance to Fifth Harmony’s hit “Worth It”:

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Occupational Therapy programs

The Class of 2016 included the first to graduate from the Program in Occupational Therapy with a doctorate in rehabilitation and participation science: Tim Wolf. He was recognized along with 22 others who received their doctorates in occupational therapy and 65 who received their master’s degrees.

Graduates receiving special recognition included Macyn Miller (OTD) and Polly Durant (MSOT), both for excellence in student research, as well as 16 scholarship recipients.

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Master’s programs: MSCI, AHBR & MPHS

A joint recognition ceremony celebrated scholars graduating with master’s in clinical investigation (MSCI), applied health behavior research (AHBR) and population health sciences (MPHS).

Thirteen scholars graduated with a Master of Population Health Sciences, which provides in-depth clinical research outcomes training for physicians and clinical doctorates.

The applied health behavior research program awarded degrees to three scholars, including Maria Pérez, who was named AHBR Coursemaster of the Year, and Tobias Palmer, who was recognized for outstanding citizenship.

Fifteen scholars completed the master’s in clinical investigation, including Karen Dodson, recognized as MSCI Coursemaster of the Year; Michael Avidan, MBBCh, recognized as Mentor of the Year; and Vanessa Kronzer, Kamlesh Patel, MD, and Zachary Vesoulis, MD, who were recognized for outstanding citizenship.

Biology & Biomedical Sciences programs

At the hooding ceremony for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 35 PhD candidates in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences joined PhD candidates universitywide to receive their degrees. Washington University Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Holden Thorp addressed the graduates, reflecting on the status and state of American universities as international engines of knowledge and research.

“The work of PhD students in our laboratories, libraries and graduate seminars defines the intellectual course of American research,” said Thorp. He encouraged graduates to press on with basic science research as well as to translate new findings – no matter the field – in ways that help the American public understand the benefits.

Watch video of the ceremony »