Bryant's Class of 2024 PA graduates seated during Commencement.
On March 23, Bryant’s Physician Assistant Class of 2024 celebrated their degree completion. Accomplished both academically and professionally, this year’s class of 48 graduates were selected from more than 700 applicants.
‘Medicine is not just a career, but a calling’: Bryant graduates 48 physician assistants
Mar 28, 2024, by Emma Bartlett
Learn About Bryant Apply to Bryant

From donning their short white coats for the first time two years ago to officially slipping into their long ones at graduation on March 23, Bryant’s Physician Assistant Class of 2024 celebrated their degree completion as they crossed the stage in the George E. Bello Center for Information and Technology and took the Physician Assistant Oath.

“Over the past 27 months, we have all spent countless hours in the classroom and lab learning anatomy, pharmacology, imaging, and so much clinical medicine it was hard to keep track,” said Sophia Stone, BS, PA-S, Class of 2024 PA Program Student Society president.

Bryant PA students walking into Bello Center.
Bryant's PA Class of 2024 processes into the George E. Bello Center for Information and Technology. With 2,000 hours spent in the classroom and 15 months of working in clinical rotations, grads spent the morning celebrating their achievements.

Accomplished both academically and professionally, this year’s class of 48 graduates were selected from more than 700 applicants and came from various backgrounds in orthopedics, pediatrics, EMS, nutrition, and more. With 2,000 hours spent in the classroom, graduates accumulated 15 months of experience working in clinical rotations around the world where they cared for different populations, learned from providers, and received practice in many specialty areas.

“With your exceptional Bryant education supporting you, you are well positioned to work toward our mission as highly competent physician assistants who are prepared on day one to provide quality, ethical, and patient-centered healthcare. As our nation’s healthcare system continues to evolve, physician assistants are playing an even more significant role,” said Bryant University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., noting that virtually 100 percent of Bryant’s PAs are employed within three months of graduation.  

Ross Gittell speaks at podium.
Bryant University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., shared that PAs are playing an even more significant role as America's healthcare system continues to evolve.

In addition to their academic success, this year’s cohort bonded through volleyball and Spikeball tournaments, basketball, beach days, and a few weddings thrown in the mix. The class also volunteered their time in free clinics where they provided care to underserved populations and held a black-tie gala and 5k that raised tens of thousands of dollars for different causes in Rhode Island.  

“I am filled with pride and optimism for the extraordinary contributions you are ready to make in the field of medicine and to society as a whole,” said PA Program Director Ashley Iacone, DMSc, MSPAS, PA-C.

Delivering the Commencement address, honorary degree recipient F. Kurt Last ’78 shared how he’s had the pleasure of meeting Bryant PA students during the American Samoa clinical rotation. Living a 20-minute plane ride away from the U.S. territory, Last — who serves as the executive vice president for WorkingBuildings, LLC in Hawaii — would speak with them about their career goals, their experience in American Samoa, and the critical work they’re doing.  

Bryant alum Kurt Last at podium.
Honorary degree recipient F. Kurt Last '78, who delivered the PA Commencement address, reminded grads that this was not the end of their learning.

“This is definitely not the end of your learning,” said Last, reminding graduates that they have a continuing obligation to stay up to date on new medical techniques and to never stop polishing their bedside manner.

With Gittell, Iacone, and Provost Rupendra Paliwal, Ph.D., conferring this year’s degrees, graduates left their seats in cap and gown only to return from backstage in their long coats, sparking excited whispers and picture-taking from the crowd.

Close-up headshot of Bryant PA student in cap and gown.
After spending 27 months in Bryant's PA Program, Marly Loreus shared that finally graduating felt surreal.

“PA school was a lot of hard work, dedication, and fun at the same time. I’d do it all again if I could,” said Christian Aguilar, vice president of the 2024 PA Program Student Society.

With Father Joseph Pescatello providing the ceremony’s invocation and benediction, newly dubbed PAs also heard from Stephen Wright, MSPAS, PA-C ’19, who welcomed graduates to the program's alumni community. Noting the resources available to them through the network and inviting graduates to connect with the other alumni, Wright left the class with something he heard early in his career: A day of work for you is a life event for a patient.

“Even on your worst days, approach your job with compassion and you will add value to the lives of the countless people you help during your career,” said Wright.

With Gittell adjourning the ceremony and black and gold confetti falling from the air, graduates were ready for their new journey.

PA student poses with family for photo.
With their white coats now on, newly dubbed PAs gather with family following the 2024 Commencement ceremony.

“Today, we celebrate not only your academic achievements but the compassion, empathy and humanity that define you as healers,” Iacone said. “As you venture forward into the world of medicine, never lose sight of the human element that lies at the heart of healing. Remember that medicine is not just a career, but a calling.” 

Read More

Related Stories