Midwestern University AZCOPT Commencement

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Message from the President

It is my honor to welcome you to Midwestern University’s virtual commencement ceremony for the Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) Class of 2020. This spring has been unlike any we have ever experienced, and I cannot be more impressed by and grateful for all our students, faculty, and staff at Midwestern University. They have worked together to respond to new challenges with resilience, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. While I truly wish we could all be together for this momentous occasion, I know that the true spirit of Midwestern University is not dependent on a place, time, or gathering.

The Midwestern University family comes together today to celebrate the academic accomplishments of our extraordinary optometry students. Our commencements have always focused on our graduates while acknowledging the faculty, loved ones, and supporters who helped them reach this important milestone. I personally thank every graduate for being a member of the Midwestern University academic community and entrusting us with their dreams.

You began orientation as strangers, but today, you graduate as friends and colleagues. These past years were filled with many events, milestones, and unique experiences. While you were studying at Midwestern University, four members of your class got engaged to be married post-graduation, while two others decided not to wait that long. There were eight babies born to Class of 2020 members since your first classes began. Your class is one of the most decorated in your College’s history. The Class of 2020 holds the highest pass rate for the National Boards (Part I) among all other optometry schools. For Part II, the entire class – 100% of you – passed your boards – the highest in AZCOPT’s history. You achieved another new standard with 44% of your class matching for residencies. Seventeen of your classmates were inducted into the Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society, and five received the honor of Gold Key membership for their leadership and service.

Commencement is a joyful event that celebrates all of your accomplishments, but it is also an opportunity to remember love ones who, although no longer with us, made a big impact in your lives. I invite you to reflect on the care, love, and generosity you received from those special individuals, and, if you wish, dedicate your graduation to them. Please join me in a moment of reflection in memory of Dr. Donald E. Jarnagin, who served as Dean of the College until his retirement in 2016, and was widely respected by faculty, staff, students, and the community for his professionalism, compassion, and commitment to service; Dr. Jarnagin’s legacy of service and kindness to our faculty, staff, students, and patients will be remembered always. It is my sincere hope that you will always cherish the memories of your loved ones’ kindnesses and support through your education, and that those memories will encourage you to return those kindnesses to your patients and communities.

Community Service was not just a requirement, but a privilege for your class. You performed vision screenings and exams for children, underserved communities, homeless populations, and Special Olympics athletes, among others. Many of you became involved in local service programs such as HopeFest and the Lions Club, and others took your skills “on the road” for mission trips to Mexico and Guatemala with DOCARE International. Your giving spirit led you to these experiences, and these experiences in turn will inform and enhance your professional career by reminding you of the good you can do when you put your patients first.

For those of you entering the military, we are tremendously proud that you will represent the University as you stand for our nation.

You are receiving your Doctor of Optometry degree and joining the ranks of outstanding alumni that serve the health care community all around our nation and the world. The lessons you learned over four years of study and clinic will serve you well as you begin your professional careers. Some of you will be staying in Arizona to practice; the rest will be working across the nation. Wherever you go, we know that you will represent Midwestern University and your College well. Our graduates are leaders in all health care fields, representing Midwestern University with pride wherever they practice.  You, like all of those who have graduated before you, have the necessary skills to be an exceptional and compassionate member of the health care team.

We celebrate our Class of 2020 and know that they leave Midwestern University with the full love and support of their faculty and staff. We are so proud of each and every one of our graduates who will soon join the team of healthcare heroes caring for our nation. Thank you for letting Midwestern University be a part of your journey.

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