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Celebrating the Class of 2017

Video: Huy Mach, Gaia Remerowski

Gathering at the historic Danforth Campus, graduates, faculty, family and friends celebrated the 156th Washington University Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2017. School of Medicine graduates were also honored at their programs’ individual recognition ceremonies held Thursday, May 18, and Friday.

Keep scrolling for photos, speakers and tweets from Commencement ceremonies belowor jump to the ceremony for graduates of:


All-university Commencement

Thirty-six year School of Medicine veteran Susan S. Deusinger, PT, PhD, led the procession into Brookings Quadrangle as honorary grand marshal of the university-wide Commencement ceremony. Now professor emerita, Deusinger served 24 years as director of the Program in Physical Therapy before retiring in 2014. She was also a professor of physical therapy and of neurology.

Best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen delivered the keynote address, daring graduates to embrace audacity and take risks.

Anna Quindlen addressing graduates at the all-university ceremony

“America is greatest when it is audacious,” Quindlen said. “It is audacious to invent, and it is audacious to dare, and it is audacious to care – and to live that caring conspicuously.”

Quindlen was one of six honorary degree recipients as well. Also among those honored were Virginia V. Weldon, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist, former Washington University School of Medicine administrator and first woman chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (doctor of science); and School of Medicine alum Thomas F. Frist Jr., MD, ’65, co-founder and chairman emeritus of HCA, the nation’s leading provider of health care services (doctor of humane letters).

Honorary degree recipients Virginia V. Weldon (in photo on left) and Thomas F. Frist (right) with Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Juris Doctor candidate Wei Zhu – who also has a master’s degree, MBA and PhD – delivered the graduate student address, sharing wisdom gained over years of graduate study.

See all photos from all-university Commencement on Flickr »


Doctor of Medicine programs

The medical program celebrated 135 graduates – an exceptionally large class – 44 of whom earned dual degrees.

Roughly one-third of the MD graduates will stay in St. Louis to complete residency programs at Barnes-Jewish Hospital or St. Louis Children’s Hospital. See the Commencement program (pdf) for a complete list of all MD candidates, including residency matches and students recognized for outstanding achievements.

School of Medicine alum Leana S. Wen, MD ’07, MSc, FAAEM, delivered the keynote address, noting that she was one of the graduates just 10 years before. Wen is Baltimore’s Commissioner of Health, an emergency medicine physician, critically acclaimed author and community advocate.

Wen challenged the new doctors to care for society’s most vulnerable, engage patients beyond the clinic, and “address the disparities that bend the arc of humankind away from justice.”

Dr. Leana Wen addressing the graduates

Preclinical Teacher of the Year awards went to retiring faculty members Glenn C. Conroy, MPhil, PhD, and Jane E. Phillips-Conroy, PhD. Beloved professors of anatomy and of anthropology, Conroy and Phillips-Conroy taught the first-year human anatomy course in which medical students are introduced to their “first patients.”

Recognition for Clinical Teacher of the Year went to Dehra A. Harris, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry. Harris reiterated Dr. Wen’s message, telling students, “I want you to make medicine better.” She also shared a secret wish for graduates: “I want you to take care of yourselves. I want you to take a second look at that X-ray … and I want you to go on vacation.”

In his address to graduates, School of Medicine Dean and Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs David H. Perlmutter, MD, reminded graduates that their education is the hallmark distinction of the medical school.

Perlmutter presented students with one big question – “How will you have your impact?”  – personally challenging individual graduates to lead the way to better futures for patients and care. “We still know far too little about human disease and how to reduce pain and suffering,” Perlmutter said. “I truly believe you are at a tipping point at which truly revolutionary discoveries are possible.”

Addressing her fellow graduates, Class President Miriam Ben Abdallah recalled the advice of Michael M. Awad, MD, PhD, at the 2013 White Coat Ceremony. “Remember the reasons we wanted to be doctors in the first place. Practice with compassion, integrity and understanding.”

And before presenting the graduates with their diplomas, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Lisa Moscoso, MD, PhD, told students about old-growth redwood trees that stand as tall as football fields thanks to resilient networks, and even fallen ancestors, rooting, connecting and supporting them.


Audiology & Communication Sciences programs

The Program in Audiology & Communication Sciences awarded degrees to students graduating from the master’s in deaf education, Doctor of Audiology and Doctor of Philosophy programs.

Craig A. Buchman, MD, the Lindburg Professor and head of the Department of Otolaryngology, addressed the graduates.

See more photos on Facebook »


Occupational Therapy programs

The hooding ceremony for the Program in Occupational Therapy recognized two graduates receiving PhDs in Rehabilitation and Participation Science, along with 23 doctoral and 72 master’s degree candidates for December 2017 graduation. Three alumni from the Class of 1967 also participated in the ceremony to celebrate their 50th reunion.

Aimee Wehmeier, executive director and CEO of Paraquad, addressed the graduates. Kerri Morgan, assistant professor of occupational therapy was the faculty speaker, and student speakers were master’s candidate Kaitlyn Nellessen and doctoral candidates Rebecca Bollinger and Matthew Foreman.

See more photos on Facebook »


Physical Therapy programs

Guest speaker Ethel Frese, DPT, professor of physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis University, addressed doctoral candidates at the hooding ceremony for the Program in Physical Therapy.

Faculty speaker Tamara Burlis, DPT, shared words of wisdom that helped guide her own professional path. Burlis is associate professor of physical therapy and of medicine, as well as associate director for clinical education and assistant director of professional curriculum in physical therapy at Washington University.

Among the 80 physical therapy graduates were Spencer Joel Wong, who was recognized for excellence in clinical education with the Beatrice Schulz Award; Nicole Katharine Biltz, who received the Steven J. Rose Research Award; Matthew John Mastenbrook, who received the Steven J. Rose Research Award and the Director’s Award; and student speaker Hannah Katherine Coryell.


Master’s programs: MSCI, AHBR & MPHS

Scholars graduating with master’s in clinical investigation (MSCI), applied health behavior research (AHBR) and population health sciences (MPHS) were recognized at a joint recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 18.

Dorina Kallogjeri, MD, MPH, and Melissa Chapnick, RD, MS, MPH, were recognized as coursemasters of the year, for MSCI and AHBR respectively. Clinical Research Training Center mentors of the year were Jay Piccirillo, MD, Rick Stein, PhD, and Joel Perlmutter, MD.

Scholars recognized for outstanding citizenship were Ryan Duncan, PhD, Raj Dhar, MD, Foluso Ademuyiwa, MD, John Price, Katherine Santosa, MD, Suzanne Schindler, MD, Wade Self and Elizabeth Yucknut.

Speakers included Bradley Evanoff, MD, the Sutter Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, director of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, and assistant dean for Clinical and Translational Research; David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine; and Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, director of Population Health Sciences, and deputy director of the Institute for Public Health.


Biology & Biomedical Sciences programs

Also on Thursday, 48 PhD candidates in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences joined PhD candidates university-wide to receive their degrees at the hooding ceremony for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Deanna Barch, chair and professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences and professor of radiology in the School of Medicine, addressed the graduates.

Watch video of the ceremony »