Graduation ceremonies are a centuries-old tradition wrapped in the obligatory pomp and circumstance. However, this year’s Commencement at Des Moines University – as at other universities, colleges and high schools nationwide – took on a new format in that it occurred virtually due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Streamed on the University’s website on May 22, the institution’s 120th Commencement ceremony marked the transition of graduates of DMU’s eight medical and health sciences programs to careers in health care, public health and research amid an unprecedented time.
“We live in a world that none of us imagined just a few months ago,” stated DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., in her welcome during the ceremony. “Amid all of this uncertainty and challenge, we can be sure of this: We live in a world that needs DMU graduates. We need highly competent, compassionate and courageous health care providers. We need public health experts and health systems administrators to educate and serve our communities. We need researchers eager and equipped to discover knowledge that will protect and enhance our health. We need wise policymakers who believe in the power of science.
“In other words, Class of 2020, we need you,” President Franklin added. “You are critical to our health and our future.”
President Franklin praised the graduates for their accomplishments, their community service and, most recently, their adaptability in managing clinical rotations, landing residencies and completing research, applied experience projects and internships.
“Throughout, you have demonstrated in many ways the types of highly competent, caring and compassionate health care professionals you are ready to be,” she said.
Commencement speaker Kevin Klauer, D.O., EJD, FACEP, a 1992 DMU osteopathic medical graduate and chief executive officer of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), encouraged graduates to ask themselves what the purpose and mission of their lives are.
“In pursuit of the answer to that question, I recommend you consider four things,” said Dr. Klauer, the first D.O. to lead AOA operations since 1981. “Define your personal mission. Pursue excellence in everything you do. Be an advocate, and be a mentor. At the end of a day, at the end of a career, at the end of your life, you want to make sure that what you have done is not only in service to others and helpful to others, but is also inspiring and fulfilling to you.”
Dr. Klauer also challenged the Class of 2020 to try new things and push themselves to be better every day. “Don’t be afraid to fail spectacularly, so that you will succeed with amazing results,” he said.
Jami Haberl, M.P.H., M.H.A., who completed master’s degrees in public health and health care administration at DMU in 2003, congratulated the graduates as president of the DMU Alumni Association. She is the executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.
“You now hold the key to changing not only your life but, as health care providers and professionals, to changing the world, one patient at a time or one community at a time,” she said.
Joining more than 14,000 DMU alumni who work in all 50 states and 13 countries, members of the DMU Class of 2020 are graduates of the University’s eight programs: doctor of osteopathic medicine; doctor of podiatric medicine; doctor of physical therapy; and master’s degree programs in physician assistant studies, anatomy, biomedical sciences, health care administration and public health.