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A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) held its spring commencement ceremony for six online programs March 3 on its Mesa, Ariz., campus. A total of 185 students earned a master of science or doctoral degree at the ceremony.

Graduates received degrees in human movement, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, audiology, doctor of health sciences, and physical therapy. This was the first time most students had met each other in person, as they all acquired their degrees through online courses.

“It was a true joy to see graduates cross the stage on such a beautiful Arizona day and celebrate their success,” said Barbara Maxwell, PT, D.P.T., M.Sc., Cert. THE, dean, ATSU-ASHS. They truly exemplify the hopes of the school and university that our graduates will commit to making a true impact on healthcare through a commitment to lifelong learning, interprofessional collaboration, and whole person care.”

During the commencement ceremony, a keynote address was given by Estela Estape, Ph.D., dean of the School of Health Professions, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan. In her address, Dr. Estape spoke about the importance of recognizing opportunities throughout one’s life time as a bridge to realizing one’s highest expectations.

“Surprises and opportunities can open doors you never thought existed,” she said. “When I stop and look back, I realize that the path I followed, although it was not the one I had planned for, probably resulted in more excitement, enjoyment, and satisfaction than the one I would have followed.”

“Dr. Estape brought joy and inspiration to our graduates,” said Annlee Burch, PT, Ed.D., M.S., M.P.H., vice dean, ATSU-ASHS. “As a respected community advocate, leader, and innovative scholar in translational research, she exemplifies the values and vision of ATSU.”

Dr. Estape, who was presented with an honorary degree from ATSU, is a medical technologist with a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico (MSC-UPR) and post-doctoral studies in electrophysiology from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. During her doctoral studies, she was a fellow of the National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In addition, Dr. Estape was a Veteran’s Administration Merit Review investigator for almost 16 years before becoming dean of the School of Health Professions, MSC-UPR in 1995. Her research interests are related to cardiovascular disease and biomarkers.

“I am proud of all our health sciences graduates who will follow the lead of our founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, and contribute to the common good of society, reduce pain and suffering, care for the needy, and, like Dr. Still, extend the touch of the soft hand of human kindness,” said ATSU President Jack Magruder. “Dr. Estape is a wonderful example to the highly competent and compassionate healthcare professionals who graduate from our university and who are making a positive difference in the world.”

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