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.
“Six months ago, if you would have told me I was going to watch my commencement ceremony from the living room of my home, I would have laughed at you. Regardless, I was still able to enjoy and celebrate the event with my family and friends,” said Breck Groskreutz, a graduate of DMU’s physician assistant (PA) program who was recognized as a member of Pi Alpha, national physician assistant honor society. “What I will miss, however, is the opportunity to share the moment with my PA colleagues and cheer them on as they walked across the stage alongside me.
“Without their support, as well as the support from my family and friends, I could not have achieved all that I have in the past two years at DMU, and for that I am grateful,” he added.
Although graduation festivities were pushed online and on-screen, in no way does that diminish the great accomplishments and contributions of members of the Class of 2020, including of the four degree programs of the College of Health Sciences. For example, Nathan Lucs, who graduated from the doctor of physical therapy program and received the program’s Service Award, served as vice president of the Physical Therapy Club and participated in and led different aspects of the program’s annual Stroke Camp, a weeklong event for people who have experienced stroke. He also led the planning and organization of the physical therapy portion of the inaugural Boys Reaching for Opportunities in Science (BROS), an annual event on campus designed to foster elementary-school boys’ interest in science and health careers.
“I am thankful to have had many wonderful influences on my life, which helped me obtain one of my top goals of becoming a doctor of physical therapy,” says Dr. Lucs, who is pursuing a position in outpatient orthopedics. “I was very honored to receive the Service Award from the physical therapy department, and I look forward to continuing to serve the greater Des Moines community.”
Below are awards bestowed on this year’s graduates of the College of Health Sciences.
- Graduate with Distinction: Adela Bajic
- Dean’s Leadership Award: Kevin Hejtmanek
- Alpha Eta Honor Society: Adela Bajric, Kelly Horn, Hailey Huey, Michelle Nicole Kroymann, Lynne Marie Lauck, Caitlyn M. Reinhard, Linda S. Wendt
- Alpha Eta is the national scholastic honor society for the allied health professions. Its purpose is to promote and recognize scholarship, leadership, and contributions to the allied health professions.
- Graduate with Distinction: David Ross Zinnante
- Dean’s Leadership Award: Mariah M. Schrack
- Alpha Eta Honor Society: Michael Christopher Conte, Elizabeth Anne Cummings, Ellyn Carmen Ferriter, Christine Elizabeth Jackson (also a recipient of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree), Hannah Margaret McMunn, David Ross Zinnante
- Graduate with Distinction: Stacy Amanda Overman
- Dean’s Leadership Award: Lukas Walter Pitzl
- Pi Alpha Honor Society: Molly Elizabeth Boge, Allie Therese Funke, Breck Sheppard Groskreutz, Katelyn Taylor Keltner, Stacy Amanda Overman, Carolyn Steenhoek, Marissa L. Wraalstad-Tomann
- Pi Alpha is the national physician assistant honor society organized for the promotion and recognition of significant academic achievement, leadership, research, community/professional service, and related activities. The society also encourages a high standard of character and conduct among both physician assistant students and graduates.
- Graduate with Distinction: Britney Shenell Williams
- Dean’s Leadership Award: Joshua Harry
- Special Recognition Award: Emma Hassan, Cory Nielson
- Research Award: Taylor Woods
- Service Award: Nathan Lucs
- Clinical Excellence Award: Bill Seeberg
- Sandra Teague Memorial Scholarship: Britney Shenell Williams
- Academic Excellence Awards: Brianna Johnston, Cory Nielson, Beth Thompson, Ashley Klein, Clara Moyer, Bill Seeberg