News » Physical Therapy Program Honors Graduates

Physical Therapy Program Honors Graduates

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Class of 2014 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program graduates were recognized for their leadership roles, academic performances, and service to the university and to the community during the Health Sciences Program’s DPT 2014 Commencement Awards Ceremony on May 16. The 36 students who make up the DPT Class of 2014 gathered in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre to celebrate their accomplishments.

Ellen Costello, Ph.D., PT, associate director for the program in physical therapy and associate professor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS, welcomed the DPT Class of 2014, along with family and friends.

“You all embody the stature that we have come to expect from this program, a program that’s wouldn’t be what is it without each of you,” said Joseph Bocchino, Ed.D., M.B.A., senior associate dean of health sciences and associate professor of clinical research and leadership at SMHS. “Thank you for continuing to elevate this program to be one of the best programs in the country.”

Elizabeth Ruckert, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS, handed out the first award. The Outstanding Alumna Award is presented to an alumna who embodies the mission and vision of the program. This year the award went to Pamela Ressler DPT ’11, adjunct instructor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS. Ressler was recognized for her dedication to the program.

Next, the 2014 Alpha Eta inductees were announced. This year’s inductees included Nora Brody, Amanda Jane Frake, Amanda Kraus, Jessica Grubbs, Michael Mauer, and Barbara Russo Guarriello. 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.

The Academic Excellence Award was presented to Barbara Russo Guarriello, for achieving the highest cumulative GPA in her class.

Amanda Janae Frake received the Clinical Leadership Award. The award recognized Frake’s outstanding performance in clinical practice.

This year three graduates received The Service Excellence Award.  Cristina Romagnoli, Caitlin Belfield, and Peter Tooley were honored for their outstanding service to others throughout their time in the program. This honor is just one of many for Tooley. Last year, he was elected to serve as chair-elect for the Student Assembly Nominating Committee of the American Physical Therapy Association.

The most prestigious award, The Jean Johnson Award for Leadership, Excellence, and Quality, was presented to Jessica Grubbs, The award honored Grubbs’s academic excellence, clinical practice, research, and community service. The award is named for the former senior associate dean for health sciences Jean Johnson, Ph.D., RN, who was a strident advocate for the PT program. Johnson currently serves as dean of the GW School of Nursing.

Next the graduates honored Elizabeth Ruckert, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS, with the Distinguished Faculty Award.

“I’m so grateful to have shared this journey with you” said DPT Class President, Cristina Romagnoli, in closing. “As diverse as we all are, we all had a common goal that is coming to fruition this weekend.”

To close the ceremony, Costello thanked the DPT Class of 2014 for their hard work, dedication, and passion for the physical therapy profession, reassuring the graduates that they are well-prepared to tackle their next challenge.