The weekend was pure joy, times two: While members of the DMU Class of 2013 and their loved ones reveled in their status as graduates during Commencement festivities May 24-25, alumni with “milestone” class years toured campus and traded tales of their student days. United in pride for their alma mater and their own achievements, both groups marched together in the Commencement ceremony on May 25.
“This is an exciting day for all of us,” said DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., at the event. “With health care reform calling for an increase in the number of primary health care providers and other skilled professionals, it is a time of unprecedented opportunity for the University and our graduates.”
White House doctor delivers keynote
In 1992, Eleanor Concepcion “Connie” Mariano, M.D., FACP, found herself at the White House with four other doctors “who looked like Tom Cruise out of ‘Top Gun.’” They were all candidates for the prestigious post of White House doctor.
“I thought I must be the token woman, Asian, the short person being interviewed for the job,” Mariano said in her keynote speech at DMU’s Commencement ceremony, where she also was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree.
During that White House interview, Mariano said she wanted the job because “it’s payback time. I owe a lot to the United States of America…If I can repay my debt by serving the commander in chief, that’s what I want to do.”
She did just that, as the first military woman in American history to be appointed White House physician for President George H.W. Bush. In 1994, she became the first woman director of the White House Medical Unit and was chosen by President Bill Clinton to serve as his personal physician. Commissioned as a U.S. Navy lieutenant upon graduating from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in 1981, she also is the first Filipino American in history to become a Navy rear admiral, in 2000.
In her keynote, Mariano advised graduates to “pick a life partner who believes in you….Be open to opportunity….Never underestimate the power of prayer and faith” and “be grateful.”
“Abolish the word ‘fear’ from your vocabulary,” she added. “Do not allow it to rule your life.”
Founder and now president of the Center for Executive Medicine, a medical concierge practice in Scottsdale, AZ, Mariano noted to the graduates, “Of all your achievements in life, you will be judged many times by your character and your personal behavior….If you make one misstep or misconduct, it can negate all the good things you’ve achieved. So make sure you’re proud of your personal conduct.”
2013 Alumni Reunion
This year launched a new tradition in DMU alumni reunions: The University honored milestone alumni by awarding silver medallions to the Class of 1988 and gold medallions to members of the Class of 1963 and earlier classes. These graduates rekindled memories, met students and marveled at DMU’s state-of-the-art campus. They formalized their medallion status by leading the Class of 2013 in the processional for DMU’s 113th annual Commencement ceremony on May 25.
Making the weekend even more special was the recognition of Sara E. Sutton, D.O.’53, FAAO, as a Pioneer in Osteopathic Medicine for her profound contributions to osteopathic manual diagnosis and treatment. She is DMU’s sixth Pioneer and the first woman to receive the honor.
An Osteopathic Pioneer
DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., above at right, recognizes Sara Sutton, D.O.’58, FAAO, as a Pioneer in Osteopathic Medicine. A family medical practitioner, Sutton has been a national force in applying, teaching and promoting muscle energy technique, a type of osteopathic manual medicine (OMM). “One of my greatest honors has been to care for patients,” she said at the May 24 Pioneer event.
The 1988 DMU Alumna of the Year, Sutton is past president of the American Academy of Osteopathy and recipient of its highest honor, the A.T. Still Medallion. She maintains a part-time practice in Des Moines and frequently hosts students in her home for OMM practice sessions. The plaque at left adorns the north exterior of DMU’s Academic Center.