SHU Physician Assistant Students Graduate

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Over the course of 27 months, 33 Sacred Heart University physician assistant students completed 100 assessments, 2,000 hours of clinical rotations and research capstone projects. Their reward for all that hard work came on a recent morning when they proudly proceeded into an intimate graduation ceremony at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts in front of friends, family and staff and received their diplomas. 

“Much effort on many fronts took place to make this day a reality,” said SHU President John J. Petillo at the ceremony. He acknowledged the faculty who taught the students, as well as the family and friends who encouraged and supported them. 

Petillo reminded the students that learning does not end at SHU. “Life is a major journey,” he said, and listening, learning and loving determines who the students will become as professionals. “Demonstrate your talent and be compassionate in your delivery of health care,” he said. 

Petillo also bid farewell and good luck to Teresa Thetford, director of the PA program, who is retiring and moving to California to be with her family. He recognized her hard work and contribution to the success of the program. 

Graduation speaker Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of Alliance of Community Health Plans, told the graduates they have a “remarkable opportunity” to shape the future of the health-care industry. 

After the conferral of the degrees, class president Erica Stolarz ’11, addressed her peers, who were chosen from an applicant pool of 1,100. She reminisced about the program’s challenges, the many tests and clinical rotations they endured and cups of coffee they consumed. But with all the stress came trips together and friendships and life-long bonds they formed. “Each step of the way was an adventure,” Stolarz said. 

When the students entered the program, they were told to read the book “Every Patient Tells a Story,” by Lisa Sanders. Recalling that, Stolarz said, “And every patient teaches us a lesson. Let’s remain open to the many lessons to come.”PHOTO: Student Carla Prophete cheers at the conclusion of Sacred Heart University’s physician assistant studies graduation ceremony at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts on December 6, 2019. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 385 Colleges–2020 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 252 Business Schools–2019 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu


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