News » Doctor of Physical Therapy Commencement Awards Ceremony

Doctor of Physical Therapy Commencement Awards Ceremony

On May 18, the GW Doctor of Physical Therapy program held its annual Commencement Awards Ceremony. The event serves as an occasion to recognize the great work of the students, and faculty and their dedication to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, to GW, and to the community.

Joyce Maring, DPT, EdD, program director of the Physical Therapy Program in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, began the program by welcoming the students and their families, and thanking the class for their unique perspective, their passion for strong patient relationships, and their desire to continue to be vital members of the health care community.

Joseph Bocchino, EdD, MBA, Interim Senior Associate Dean, Health Sciences Programs reiterated these ideals and noted that not only are physical therapists at the core of any health care team but, “physical therapists are in the forefront of clinical reasoning and poised to be leaders in the future of health care.”

At the event, students, faculty and alumni were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments and the following awards were presented:

The Outstanding Alumnus Award was presented by Ellen Costello, PT, PhD, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, to Dhinu Jayaseelan, DPT. The award is presented annually to a graduate of the GW Physical Therapy Program who embodies the mission and vision of the program.

The Outstanding Clinical Educator Award was presented by Marisa Birkmeier, DPT, PCS, and Will Drew, DPT to John Romero, PT, MA, SCS for his commitment to his students and the advancement of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at GW. The award is presented annually to a clinical educator in recognition of exceptional dedication and commitment to the development of the GW Physical Therapy students.

The Academic Excellence Award was presented by Phil Blatt, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, to Mary Compton, DPT for her remarkable academic performance and achieving a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. The faculty members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program present this award annually, in recognition of outstanding academic performance and it is awarded to the graduate who achieved the highest cumulative grade point average.

The Clinical Leadership Award was presented by Dr. Birkmeier to Tony Torres, DPT. The faculty members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program present this award annually in recognition of the graduate who most exemplified outstanding performance in clinical practice. Dr. Birkmeier read an excerpt of a letter from a parent of a teenaged patient of Tony’s during one of his clinical rotations. In the letter, the mother lauded Tony’s clinical care, but also his compassion for her son as he adjusted to life after a traumatic brain injury

The Service Excellence Awards were presenting by Jennifer Halvaksz, DPT, OCS, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Costello. Christine Pattison, DPT, was presented the award for her service to the community, and Will Drew was presented the award for outstanding contributions to the program and to the profession. Faculty members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program present these awards to recognize the graduate or undergraduates who most exemplify outstanding service to others throughout his or her time in the Program.

The Jean Johnson Award for Leadership, Excellence, and Quality was presented by Dr. Maring to Maggie Richards for demonstrating excellence and quality in academic course work, clinical practice, research, and community service. This award is named for Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, who was the Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences and is now the Dean of the School of Nursing. Dean Johnson has been a strong advocate for the Physical Therapy Program for many years and she exemplifies leadership, excellence, and lifelong Learning, which are integral to Quality Practice. The Jean Johnson Award for Leadership, Excellence, and Quality is awarded to a graduating student in recognition of overall outstanding performance. Maggie distinguished herself in scholarship through research, presentations and writing about patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She was very active in service to the community as well as to the American Physical Therapy Association, serving as the APTA Core Ambassador and Student Delegate. Maggie will be returning to GW this Fall as a PT Program teaching assistant as part of her Orthopaedic Clinical Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

The Alpha Eta Inductees, which included Mary Compton, Katherine Kleene, Julia McPeak, Christine Pattison, Maggie Richards, Stacey Stuart, and Abbey Wawryznek, were also recognized. The Alpha Eta Honor Society is the National Honor Society for Health Science Professionals. The inductees have performed academically in the top 20 percent of their class and have displayed leadership qualities and demonstrated a commitment to community service.

At the event, members of the class of 2012 Student Leadership were commended for their great work and leadership. Those students included: Danielle Geruso (President), Will Drew (Vice President), Mary Compton (Secretary), Megan Knapick (Treasurer), and Christine Pattison (Historian/Newsletter Editor). Additionally, several members of the class were recognized for their leadership with the Interdisciplinary Student Community-Oriented Prevention Enhancement Service (ISCOPES). Those students included: Jenna Bythrow (Bread for the City), Kate Kleene (Community of Hope-Marie Reed Center), Christine Patticon (Community of Hope-Transitional Housing), Maggie Richards (DC Healthy Start Program), and Danielle Geruso (Whitman Walker Clinic). Will Drew, Holli Finneren and Mellie Hock also served as PT Program representatives to ISCOPES.

Class President Danielle Geruso, DPT, gave the charge to her classmates, and inspired them to continue along the path of clinical excellence and compassionate care of their patients. On behalf of her class, she also thanked the faculty, family and friends for their support during the program.

The event came to a close with a “thank you” from Dr. Maring. She thanked the class “for the lessons you have taught all of us” and challenged the class to “take their profession to new heights!”

The event was held at the Dorothy Betts Theater in the Marvin Center.