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School of Health Professions students to celebrate graduating at Dec. 17 commencement

Three women dressed in graduation cap and gown. Two of the woman are placing a yellow sash on the woman in the center.
More than 130 students from the School of Health Professions will graduate at a Dec. 17 commencement ceremony on campus. The event is an exciting milestone for students, as shown by this graduate receiving her hood at the 2022 ceremony.

Patients depend on our country’s health care system to provide access to the most effective and innovative treatments. UT Southwestern’s School of Health Professions is proactively addressing the critical need for qualified workers by preparing leaders to shape the future of medical care for all people, especially in marginalized rural and urban communities.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, the School will honor the educational achievements of more than 130 students at a 2 p.m. commencement ceremony held in the Tom and Lula Gooch Auditorium on South Campus. Surrounded by family, friends, faculty, and staff, the graduates will embrace new beginnings and a future dedicated to service and impact.

Degrees in seven disciplines will be awarded: Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Clinical Research, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Science in Clinical Science, Master of Science in Health Informatics, Master of Clinical Nutrition, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Prosthetics-Orthotics.

Smiling man with light hair and gray beard and mustache, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and plaid tie.
Jon Williamson, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Health Professions

Jon Williamson, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Health Professions, will preside over the ceremony and wish the graduates well as they set off to care for patients across the U.S. and beyond. “Our graduates have completed rigorous academic programs and are well prepared to contribute as members of the workforce. The commencement ceremony recognizes their accomplishments and celebrates the transition from graduate student to health care professional,” Dr. Williamson said.

As a national leader in allied health and health sciences education, Craig R. Jackson, J.D., M.S.W., Dean of the School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University, will deliver the commencement address.

Smiling man with shaved head and trim beard and mustache, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and red striped tie.
Keynote speaker Craig R. Jackson, J.D., M.S.W., of Loma Linda University

“These students are embarking on an exciting journey. The need for their expertise and passion in service to humanity could not be more urgent. While the need for good, competent care for our diverse communities is strong, the need for compassion and cultural sensitivity can make the difference and increase cooperation with their primary care provider and better health outcomes. I want to encourage the graduates to continue to grow, to seek new opportunities, to put their skills to work for the benefit of their communities, and to never forget they are called to serve,” Dr. Jackson said.

Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, Dr.PH., M.P.A.S., PA-C, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Engagement – School of Health Professions, will introduce the programs. Drs. Bradley-Guidry and Williamson are both Distinguished Teaching Professors.

Smiling woman with dark hair wearing a dark suit over a pink blouse and a pearl necklace.
Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, Dr.PH., M.P.A.S., PA-C

“We are extremely proud of our health professions graduates. They have come far, worked hard, and achieved their academic goals. Their perseverance has led them to this proud moment in their lives. It has been a pleasure to witness our scholars grow professionally and personally while pursuing their graduate degrees,” said Dr. Bradley-Guidry. “We take pride in knowing that as our graduates enter the health professions workforce, they are prepared to provide culturally humble care, promoting health equity and wellness through excellence in patient care, education, service, and research.”  

Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President of UT Southwestern, will confer degrees and present diplomas.

UTSW’s original School of Allied Health Professions was organized in 1969 to prepare health professionals of the highest caliber to meet the needs of the health care system in local communities. In September 1970, the first class of 57 students began its studies. More than 50 years later, it is now called the School of Health Professions as its faculty and staff continue to build upon the work of the individuals who served before them to educate, discover, and heal.

Each year, about 150 students join a UTSW health professions program, while thousands have matriculated over the decades and become leaders in their fields. With more than 60 full-time faculty members and hundreds of adjunct faculty and clinical preceptors across the DFW metroplex, the School of Health Professions offers an outstanding educational experience for training in varied health care jobs.

The campus community can access the live commencement online at 2 p.m. on Dec. 17. The ceremony will also be recorded for future viewing.

At the event, eight students will be recognized for special awards from the Dean’s Office. The following award recipients include 2023 and 2024 graduates.

Award recipients

John Schermerhorn, M.D., Student Service Award for exceptional service to the community:

  • Travis Cook, physical therapy (2023)
  • John Giacona, M.P.A.S., PA-C, applied clinical research (2023)

L. Ruth Guy, Ph.D., Student Leadership Award in recognition of leadership efforts within the school and the local community:

  • Kira Donnelly, prosthetics-orthotics (2023)
  • Tasha Champagne, applied clinical research (2023)
  • Kirby Baber, clinical nutrition (2024)

Raul Caetano, M.D., Ph.D., Student Research Award for noteworthy research in respective fields:

  • Caitlin Jarrard, applied clinical research (2024)

Gordon Green, M.D., Student Clinician Award recognizing outstanding clinical skills as a student trainee:

  • Alexandria White, clinical nutrition (2024)

Rising Star Award in recognition of overall contributions and excellence in leadership:

  • Salvador Gonzalez, prosthetics-orthotics (2023)
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