Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony Honors Class of 2016

The 5th Annual Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony was held on August 29, 2014 at the DeRosa University Center Ballroom.

The anticipation leading up to the ceremony was exciting to witness, all of the smiling and proud faces of students and parents alike. Everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin gathered into the DeRosa University Center’s lobby taking pictures.

The class of 2016 came in their best dresses and suits. Parents and families slowly entered, looking for the best seats. As the ceremony was beginning, everyone’s attention turned towards the two doors that opened up for the students entering in an orderly fashion. There was no hiding the priceless expressions on the students’ faces as they looked in to the audience and saw their loved ones clapping and looking up at them in awe.

Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.
Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.

Dr. Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ’03, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, opened the ceremony with a few words and introduced Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Boyce shared a story that touched the audience but must have been particularly inspiring to the class of 2016 and their mentors. His 86 year old father suffered from a viral health issue and with the help of a home visiting physical therapist he was able to help his father walk within a week. He described his father as being “independent because of the physical therapist.” Words of encouragement and gratefulness did not stop there. There “has to be trust, some benefits and relationship between the patients and the care provider,” continued Dr. Boyce. With his closing remarks he simply put that it is “no longer about you, it’s about the patient you serve.”

The warmth filled the room and more words of inspiration continued as Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Michael Tubbs, the 6th District City Councilmember for Stockton, Ca. He opened his address with stating the fact that “Stockton is facing a lot of health challenges and in the San Joaquin County, Stockton is at a 30% poverty rate and 60% don’t have high school diplomas.” He connected health and education because these things are basic human needs. People lash out because they may be ill-educated or suffering from health problems that can be solved by simple medications or doctor visits. Tubbs proposed a challenge to the students as they enter the next chapter in their lives of physical therapy. “I want to challenge everyone to move towards justice.” Justice meaning, when we see an injured person on the sidewalk, do not simply walk away, offer your help. Simple action such as this not only shows our care for mankind but also shapes us into better individuals.

Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.
Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize the Alumna of the Year award recipient. This year Dr. Josephine “Jody” Nance ’90, ’03 was acknowledged as the “2014 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year.” Dr. Nance opened her speech with quotes from a motivational video she found on YouTube about the topic of why we fall. No one understands the late nights and the strenuous study sessions like Dr. Nance. “You have to sacrifice what you are for what you will become,” an everlasting statement she made to the students. This wisdom not only applies to the physical therapy class but to so many aspects of our lives.

Following the speakers, was the cloaking of the class of 2016. Family members excitedly stood up with their cameras ready. Flashes, applauses, and words of encouragement were exchanged as the students walked onto the stage to be cloaked with their white coats by their second year mentors. Congratulations to another brilliant class!

In the words of Michael Tubbs: “What are you prepared to do today so that 50 years from now another child will have the opportunity to become a physical therapist?”

The White Coat Ceremony is generously sponsored by Kaiser Permanente through The Healthy Children Grant which intends to combat obesity in the community.