Graduates celebrated in gusty conditions at Anschutz Medical Campus May 25

By Chris Casey | University Communications

AURORA, Colo. – Amid blustery winds and cool temperatures, graduates in the health professions received their degrees this morning at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Spring Commencement for the School of Medicine, College of Nursing, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, Graduate School and the Colorado School of Public Health took place before hundreds of family and friends in the Boettcher Commons.

“It’s just hard to believe that we’re actually done,” said Christina Blandford, who received a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. “It seems like we just started, even though it was two years ago. It’s all gone by so fast, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Scenes from Anschutz Medical Campus graduation:

Blake Sherman, who earned a doctor of medicine degree, celebrated with family and friends after the gusty ceremony. “It’s funny to see all the caps being blown off,” he said. “We could have dealt without the wind, but it could have been worse (weather-wise).”

Sherman will head off to Phoenix to begin his residency in emergency medicine.

“It’s been a long, hard road, all culminating in this great and wonderful day of graduation,” he said. “I’m glad to be here with all my colleagues, and we’re finally doctors.”

Thirty-six students who earned Ph.D. degrees were hooded on the stage during the main ceremony.

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson imparted some of the things he’s learned in life to the graduates. Among the lessons are the importance of being a good listener, being open to other people’s ideas and taking on leadership roles. “If you have a life plan,” Benson said, “don’t miss opportunities that may not fit exactly into your plan.”

Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus, told the graduates they are beginning their careers at a critical time.

“You are entering the field of health care at a time that our country is facing a health care crisis, challenged by health care disparities, inconsistent access to care and spiraling costs,” she said. “We look to you to be the vanguard of health care reform and redesign, by coupling your knowledge and experience with your wisdom, compassion, leadership and commitment to improving the health of your patients and your communities.”

Citations were awarded to Susan Hagedorn, PhD (University Medal), Anna and John Sie (University Medal), Dennis Helling, PharmD, DSC, FCCP, FASHP (Florence Rena Sabin Award), Richard Hamman, MD, DRPH (Joseph Addison Sewall Award) and Richard Johnston, Jr., MD (Sewall Award).

Hagedorn, an emeritus faculty member in the College of Nursing, was cited for her substantial contributions while an active faculty member, including developing clinical experiences to ensure that nursing students had experiences with poor and underserved populations.

The Sies were cited for their support of numerous programs at the university, including their founding of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, which is the country’s largest organization dedicated to research and care for individuals with Down Syndrome.

Helling was cited for elevating the practice of pharmacy through education, residency training and clinical pharmacy practice. Under his guidance, the pharmacy department at Kaiser Permanente has established and expanded clinical roles for pharmacists, with significant impact on patient outcomes.

Hamman was cited for his far-reaching contributions to the university’s health sciences community. The most prominent of these has been his commitment and leadership in developing and opening the region’s first and only school of public health. Hamman, founding dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, has contributed decades of his career to the university in the areas of research, education and administration.

Johnston was cited for providing exceptional leadership and vision to the Anschutz Medical Campus and its research enterprise. As associated dean for research and development in the School of Medicine since 2001, Johnston has helped to redesign and focus the research mission of the campus. He led the development of a comprehensive research strategic plan for the medical school.

Today’s graduates included 245 students from the School of Medicine (141 Doctor of Medicine graduates, 40 PA graduates and 64 Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates), 176 from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, 156 from the College of Nursing, 67 students from the School of Dental Medicine, 67 from the Colorado School of Public Health and 83 from the Graduate School.

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