School of Health Professions

Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2025 receives white coats

Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2025 poses in white coats


As their family and friends looked on, the 45 members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2025 received their white coats and pins on April 19.

The ceremony, held in Holly Auditorium, marks the transition from the classroom phase to the clinical phase of the program. 

“It is considered an important rite of passage,” School of Health Professions Dean David Shelledy, PhD, RRT, FAARC, FASAHP, told the students. “The white coat is a symbol of your dedication to professionalism, service and provision of the very best patient care. The white coat is a reminder of your responsibility to practice the art and science of physical therapy with uprightness and honor.”

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Jacquis Lagura, PT, DPT, adjunct faculty and graduate of the program, shared five important pieces of advice with students: accept that perfection doesn’t exist in a clinical setting, develop grit, practice what she called “radical self-responsibility, do not take things personally and keep the focus on core values and what drew them to the profession.

The white coat should serve as a reminder of the responsibility that comes with practicing as a  physical therapist, she said.

“Wear it with pride, but also wear it with humility, knowing that the well-being of others will be entrusted in your hands,” Lagura said. 

Makenzie Smiley, president of the Class of 2025, said she chose physical therapy because it will allow her to get to know her patients. Receiving her white coat represented progress toward her goal of being a physical therapist, and having friends and family at the ceremony made it extra special, she said.

“Our class is truly one big family,” Smiley said. “It was so wonderful to receive our white coats together knowing that we spent the last two years encouraging and supporting each other through this journey.”

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