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67 Health Sciences Graduates Take Oath to Their Profession in White Coat Ceremony

Proud Occupational Therapy Doctorate graduates.

By Dave DeFusco


One of the enduring rituals of May in America is graduation season—processional marches, festooned mortarboards, Bach preludes and earnest speeches dolloped with thanks and optimism. At the Katz School, health sciences graduates got the opportunity to participate in two rites of passage.


On May 16, after participating in the school’s main commencement exercises, 67 students from the M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy Doctorate celebrated at their own special Health Sciences Celebration, in which they received white coats marking the completion of their education and transition to professional clinical practice. 


In her faculty address, Dr. Michaela Medved, clinical assistant professor of speech-language pathology, said the white coat ceremony symbolizes professionalism, caring, trust and authority. 


Speech-Language Pathology students pose with their white coats alongside their faculty.

“Being a healthcare professional is a huge responsibility but a great honor,” she said. “Your patients and their families are going to look to you as a lifeline. Whatever you choose to do, do it with love, do it with care, do it with compassion.”  


Dr. Mindy Garfinkel, interim program director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate, said it’s no longer customary for occupational therapists to wear a white coat in their practice since so many of them work in nonmedical settings, such as schools and homes, but it still sends a powerful message.


“The white coat symbolizes the donning of a new professional identity, one of scholar-practitioner,” she said. 


During the ceremony, the following OT Doctorate graduates received an Academic Achievement Award for completing the program with a GPA over 3.85: Dr. Piermiline Datilus, Dr. Brynna Kaplan, Dr. Ashley Mathew and Dr. Katherine Mueller. In addition, these graduates received awards for Clinical Excellence (Dr. Amanda Brenner), Leadership (Dr. Dalia Planer), Scholarship-Practitioner (Dr. Amanda Hoberman) and Service (Dr. Leeyah Azizi). 


Graduates receiving an Academic Achievement Award in Medical Speech-Language Pathology: Krystine Boisoly, Rachel Eliav, Davida Farnam, Marina Fletcher, Briana Horwich, Rachel Horwitz, Esther Kreislman, Tehilla Peyamipour, Danielle Sherman and Yu Wei Young. In addition, Heather Andrade received the Medical SLP Advocacy Award for exceptional leadership, and Emmaline Bradley and Cindy Salinas were awarded the Online and On-Campus Clinical Key of Excellence, respectively.  


The Speech-Language Pathology program also honored the following clinicians “who skillfully trained, inspired and created a progressive learning environment, demonstrating leadership to the faculty, students, clinical staff, patients and their families”: Speech Solutions Hawaii (Excellence in Clinical Supervision, West Coast); Speech Tree (Excellence in Clinical Supervision, East Coast); Kristin Testani, New York City Department of Education (Excellence in Clinical Education); and Maria Panayiotou, All in 1 SPOT with TheraTalk (Preceptor Award).  


In remarks to the graduates, Dr. Marissa Barrera, assistant dean of health sciences and program director of the M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology, said, “As clinicians we are part of a larger community of healthcare professionals and with that fellowship comes the responsibility to ensure you are always providing the very best clinical care to each and every one of your patients. Remember, by wearing your white coat, you are making a promise to yourself, your profession, your patients and to humanity that you will have integrity in everything that you do.”