Ideal weather, a distinguished grand marshal, honored “milestone” alumni, a compelling keynote speaker and, of course, the elation of earning their 472 DMU degrees made Commencement a joyous occasion for graduates, their loved ones and all members of the DMU community.
The newest set of University alumni were joined by members of the classes of 1990, 1965 and earlier years who wore silver and gold medallions to denote the milestone anniversaries of their own graduations. Those individuals included Grand Marshal Murray Goldstein, D.O.’50, M.P.H., a trailblazer in osteopathic medicine. He was the first osteopathic physician to be appointed a commissioned medical officer in the uniformed services (the U.S. Public Health Service, in 1953); the first D.O. to achieve star rank (two-star admiral); the first admitted to a U.S. school of public health and to a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic; the first to receive a presidential commendation; and the first D.O. appointed to an institute of the National Institutes of Public Health, among other “firsts.” He also served as assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service.
“I had these opportunities and privileges. It was just circumstantial being the person at the right moment,” he said. “That was the fun I had breaking all those barriers.”
Keynote speaker and recipient of an honorary doctor of science degree was Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health at the University of Minnesota and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Acknowledging that “a commencement address can be the best of times or the worst of times,” he shared the wisdom of “Nana,” the wife of the owner of the newspaper where his father worked who “adopted spiritually” Osterholm during his tough childhood. She taught him that the “one thing” that matters in life is leaving a legacy.
Osterholm expressed shame that his generation, “the baby boomers,” will leave to the next generation a planet “in much more degraded and worse shape than we received it.” He encouraged the graduates to not have “a pity party” but rather focus on fixing issues ranging from climate change and a lack of health care to the “occurrence of deadly terrorism.”
An international leader both on preparedness for an influenza pandemic and on the growing concern regarding the use of biological agents as catastrophic weapons, Osterholm said “two wonderfully essential gifts in our lives” are love and passion. He said Nana emphasized love as “a lamp burning in the middle of one’s life, a warmth for the chill hours.” Passion, he added, is particularly important for health care providers who must “emotionally survive the daily challenges of the patient.”
“In the end, it will be your passion for helping others that will be the ballast for this life you have chosen,” he said.
Happy thoughts from the Class of 2015
“I am forever indebted to the incredible faculty and staff that contributed to the great education I received from DMU. I feel beyond prepared for my residency, and I know the knowledge and skills I gained from my alma mater will help me to spread health and happiness to my future patients and community.”
Elizabeth “Libby” Abbas, Graduate with Distinction, College of Osteopathic Medicine
“When I started the program, I attended classes on campus and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful campus. However, when we found out we were moving for my fiance’s job out of state, the ability to transfer to online classes was instrumental in the continuation of my educational career. I now work as a public health educator for San Joaquin County in California, and I am positive that I could never have made it to this point without the time I spent at DMU.”
Lauren Brown, Dean’s Leadership Award, Master of Public Health program
“My journey as a student in the PA program is best summarized by a quote from Pele, ‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all love of what you are doing.’”
Kara Johnson, Graduate with Distinction, Physician Assistant program
“My wife is amazing and is the one who deserves an award and all the recognition for putting up with my crazy schedule while doing such a great job raising our three children. I couldn’t have done it without her, and they are the ones who made all this hard work worth it.”
Andrew Clothier, Graduate with Distinction, College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
“I think this award actually means more to me than my degree. It means a lot to me to know that my hard work was recognized, but it means even more to me because it recognizes the support and sacrifice of my family.”
Kyle Teeling, Graduate with Distinction, Master of Health Care Administration program; director of support services, Community Memorial Hospital, Sumner, IA
“I matriculated into the M.H.A. program with no health care experience to speak of, but thanks to the mentorship of the faculty and my fellow students, I’ve begun a successful career as a clinic director for Primary Health Care Inc., Des Moines. I have found fulfillment in my work that I didn’t believe possible until I found such an amazing employer, and that’s all thanks to Des Moines University.”
Nathaniel Simpson, Dean’s Leadership Award, College of Health Sciences
“DMU provided me with plenty of experiences outside of the classroom, helping prepare me to be a more rounded clinician as I transition from the role of PT student to a practicing physical therapist.”
Brittany MacLean, Dean’s Leadership Award, Doctor of Physical Therapy program