The 29 members of the Physician Assistant Program Class of 2015 at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine came together with family and friends on May 16, in Thorne Auditorium, to take their final step in the program—as graduates.

Diane B. Wayne, ’91 MD, vice dean for Education, addressed the assembly and acknowledged the hard work of the scholars. She then introduced the commencement speaker, Lisa Werner, ’13 MS, an accomplished PA graduate who works at Christ Community Health Services in Memphis, Tenn., which serves over 57,000 patients, with more than 160,000 annual visits.

Werner reflects the rich and diverse life paths of many of the PA students who train at Northwestern. She came from a background of community and humanitarian service, working in places as varied as the highlands of Guatemala, to Lawndale on the west side of Chicago, and Kabul, Afghanistan, before being accepted into the Feinberg program. As a PA student, she was awarded the National Health Services Corps Scholarship. Then and now, she serves as an inspiration to others.

The twenty-nine members of the Class of 2015 threw their mortar boards high in the air in joyful celebration of their graduation from Feinberg.

The twenty-nine members of the Class of 2015 threw their mortar boards high in the air in joyful celebration of their graduation from Feinberg.

“I get to take care of people who struggle every day. People who struggle to make ends meet, to buy their own medicines, to choose, at times, between insulin and food, some who struggle to deal with severe chronic pain because there is no specialist who will see them without insurance,” Werner explains. “It is a privilege to serve individuals such as these. In return, I am invited into some of the most private thoughts, secret fears, and sometimes the most honest moments some of them have had in a very long time.

“My friends, you have the magnificent privilege to be invited into such places—don’t miss the fragile and fleeting opportunities to show compassion and meet deep needs. Take care of your patients well.”

Following Werner’s remarks, Michael MacLean, MS, PAC, director of the PA program, spoke to the class before leading them in the recitation of the Physician Assistant Oath.

“You have each completed the initial phase of your career,” says MacLean. “Your Feinberg education has prepared you well; however, now it is time to go out and make a difference in the lives of patients and help to improve the communities and cities in which you will be practicing.”

After the graduates were hooded and received their diplomas from Dr. Wayne, four awards were presented to students and faculty: Laura Ann Guyman, ’15 MS, received the Class of 2015 Academic Achievement Award, and Physician Assistant Distinguished Preceptor Awards were presented to Steven R. Edelstein, MD; James D. Pecard IV, PA-C; and Deborah Gulson, MD.

Finally, Class of 2015 speaker Scott Crawford, ’15 MS, addressed his peers before the convocation met in the Rubloff Atrium for the celebratory reception.