Radford graduates step off into health care careers

DPT candidate dons white coat
Doctor of Physical Therapy Chair Kristen Jagger bestows the ceremonial white coat upon Jessica Ostrower, one of the 20-person DPT Class of 2017, at the program's White Coat and Pinning Ceremony on May 5.

From two events May 5, 70 Radford University health care providers took purposeful strides toward their professional destinations.

Twenty doctoral candidates in physical therapy donned white coats and pins in the Muse Banquet Room at the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) White Coat and Pinning Ceremony to join their profession. At the School of Nursing (SON) Pinning and Awards Ceremony in the Bondurant Auditorium, 50 nurses were pinned and took the Nightingale pledge to join their professional colleagues.

“I have enjoyed the three-year period of growth,” said Michael Harris of Yorktown as he reflected on his completion of the DPT program. “The highlight is today. I look forward to helping people improve their health through movement.”

DPT chair Kristen Jagger said the DPT Class of 2017 was a “a unique, eclectic and dynamic group," especially Drew Weisbeck, the Medical Facilities of America Student of the Year.

“Drew has been an intellectual, truly a thinker,” said Jagger.  “He gets into the details of every science we study.  He has represented our program well, presenting nationally, being active in the community and winning the university’s three-minute thesis award.”

Chelsea Stoots ’11, DPT ’14 and a graduate of the program’s inaugural graduation class, preceded the ceremonial pinning and white coat donning as keynote speaker.

Among those who donned the regalia of their profession were Amy Putnam and Maison Puckett ’14.  Not only will they begin their careers as physical therapists in Roanoke after graduation, but they will also be married in September after having met as first-years.

“Radford has been a wonderful place,” said Puckett of his seven years at Radford from which he earned his undergraduate degree in athletic training.

“The programs offered me what I was looking for and the professors are accomplished in their fields.”

Putnam enjoyed the DPT program’s camaraderie and rigor. 

“I am comfortable and confident about my abilities to treat my clients.  It has been a tough, but great, three years. The faculty and my classmates have been like a family,” she said.

SON Pinning action
His mother looks on excitedly as Steven Journell adjusts his BSN nursing pin.

The family thread was woven into the School of Nursing (SON) Pinning and Awards Ceremony as well. 

Kara Lilly was pinned by her mother Cindy Heth, a career nurse. 

“Today is awesome. To share this nurse-to-nurse is great, but daughter-to-mother is even better,” said Heth of watching Lilly prepare to follow in her professional footsteps.

Lilly will take a job at the UVa Medical Center on the Medical/ICU floor.

Her Mom’s advice to a newly professional colleague was to “be kind and keep learning.”

Retiring Nursing Professor Linda Ely keynoted the SON ceremony. Ely is one of four retiring SON faculty along with Assistant Professor Patricia Conklin, Instructor Mary McGill and Professor Lisa Onega. 

“We do cry. Crying comes with celebration, milestones, capstones, honors, separations and losses.” Ely said. “Class of ‘17, prepare to move on. We will miss you. We enjoyed being a small part of your journey. We will all cry. I thank you.”

The ceremony was especially poignant as the Class of 2017 grieved for a much-loved member, Bridget Oliver, who was killed in a car accident three weeks ago. The SON Class of 2017 and faculty wore a crown pin with a purple ribbon to keep her memories close.

Anna Hall, who worked with Oliver on the labor delivery floor at Roanoke Memorial Hospital during their clinicals, said, “I am so happy to share this day with Bridget’s family. We all think of her and are blessed to have known her.”

Rachel Jones, who survived the accident and has been in rehabilitation since, received a standing ovation as she was pinned. Jones was also named the SON’s Kitty Parker Smith Leadership award recipient and led the class and her professional colleagues in the Nightingale Pledge, the nursing equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath.

Other SON award winners were:

  • Holly Sanford – Scholastic Excellence Award
  • Victoria Stafford – Janet Hardy Boettcher Nursing Excellence Award
  • Zoe Everard – Janet S. Mooney Excellence in Pediatrics Award
  • Michelle Salcedo – Mildred Hopkins RN Excellence in Nursing Award
  • Courtney Ogarchock – Marcella Griggs Excellence in Geriatric Nursing Award

Louise Labarca, a retired nurse, pinned her granddaughter, Townsend Clements, who soon will begin practice on a Surgical/ICU unit in Salem.

“Nursing is such a special career, there are so many rewards,” said Labarca. “I am excited for her and very proud of her.”

May 9, 2017
Don Bowman
(540) 831-5182