Rutgers School of Health Professions Graduates 504 Students at Virtual 44th Convocation

The Rutgers School of Health Professions celebrated its 44th graduating class of 504 students at this year’s Virtual Convocation on Wednesday, May 19.

During the online ceremony hosted on SHP’s website, degrees were awarded in 34 certificate and degree programs, which normally would have been awarded at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 2,900 users visited the website on the day of convocation, a big spike in visitors who came from all over the state and country to celebrate the Class of 2021.

While convocation was not in-person this year, students were able to celebrate their graduation in ways they never could before. Many students contributed text and video messages to appear alongside their name and picture in a slide that came on-screen when each name and degree was called.

Other students shared some meaningful and fun pictures, such as Vincent Amoruccio, Doctor of Philosophy, Biomedical Informatics,  smiling in his cap and gown with his two dogs while another student who switched the cap for a Black Panther mask posed in the “Wakanda forever” salute.

In her address to the Class of 2021, Dean Gwendolyn M. Mahon shared how this year’s convocation is one to be remembered, as the students graduating demonstrated resilience during an unprecedented time. “I do wish this could have been an in-person celebration with all the pomp and circumstance each of you deserve, but I have to tell you, today is extra special,” said Dean Mahon.

“One day you will tell your children and grandchildren, I was class of 2021, and they will look at you in wonder. I think this 44th convocation may be one of the best and most impactful because it is not occurring at NJPAC in Newark NJ where we would normally now be together, but it is occurring in towns and cities across the nation and the globe right now.”

During the Convocation, annual Awards of Excellence were announced:

  • Dr. Carrie Esopenko, assistant professor in Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences, Excellence in Research
  • Stephanie Cochrane, instructor in Clinical Laboratory and Medical Imaging Sciences, Excellence in Teaching
  • Dr. Matthew Putts, graduate of Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling, Distinguished Alumnus
  • Ms. Sylvia Zabielski, graduate from the Medical Laboratory Sciences program, Stanley S. Bergen, Jr. Medal of Excellence
  • Dr. Noa’a Shimoni, Associate Professor, Interim Chair in the Department of Family Medicine of New Jersey Medical School, and Director, Student Health Services at Rutgers Health Sciences Campus at Newark, Distinguished Service to the School of Health Professions

A division of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the School of Health Professions provides education for both entry-level health professionals and practicing health providers seeking specialty and advanced degrees.

The school opened in Newark in 1976 as the College of Medicine and Dentistry – School of Allied Health Professions, with 11 certificate programs. It has grown into the largest, leading health professions school in the country.

By Alessandra Izaguirre