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Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Holds Moving Up Ceremony Honoring the Class of 2021


Mercy College honored 29 members of the Class of 2021, soon-to-be graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, with a Moving Up Ceremony on October 17, 2020. Students, faculty and other supporters gathered in Main Hall on the Dobbs Ferry Campus while an audience of 136 Zoom participants joined the event virtually to observe social distancing guidelines.

The DPT Moving Up Ceremony, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of students about to enter their final clinical rotations, is a formal initiation into the field of physical therapy ethics and practice. During the ceremony, each student is presented with a white coat, a symbol of the principles and virtues of the profession in which they promise to uphold as practicing clinicians.

Following welcoming remarks from Mercy College President Tim Hall and an introduction by Dr. Joan Toglia, dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences, participants heard a keynote address by Dr. James Gurley, assistant professor of Physical Therapy at Mercy College and a certified vestibular rehabilitation clinical specialist at the James J. Peters VAMC in the Bronx. Graduating student Nicholas Rittersbach ’21 delivered the student address to fellow members of the DPT Class of 2021. The ceremony concluded with the graduates donning their white coats and reciting a pledge to honor their profession with clinical excellence, professionalism and passion.

Dr. Nannette Hyland, associate professor and DPT Program Director, acknowledged that this was the first time the DPT program hosted virtual participants via live video broadcast. Yet the emotions and celebration were just as potent as in any other recognition of academic achievement and dedication.

"We wanted to keep this important tradition going as it represents a significant point in the three-year DPT program,” said Hyland. “It was wonderful to see the encouragement and comments coming from family and friends in the chat window. Despite the need to maintain social distancing, the feeling of community among the students and faculty was very strong.”