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OHSU to honor more than 1,200 new graduates

June 3 convocation is cumulation of years of studying, beginning of new careers
two women, smiling at one another, wearing graduation gowns and mortar boards
OHSU convocation ceremonies for the Class of 2019 begin on June 3. A total of 1,253 degrees will be awarded. (OHSU/John Valls)

A new generation of health care professionals, educators and researchers are graduating from OHSU this month. Convocation ceremonies begin Monday, June 3, and will continue through the month. A total of 1,253 degrees will be awarded.

Ceremonies for the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will be held June 3 at the Oregon Convention Center. The featured speaker will be L.D. Britt, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc., who is the Henry Ford Professor and Edward J. Brickhouse Chairman at Eastern Virginia Medical Schools’ Department of Surgery.

Ceremonies for the Oregon State University/OHSU College of Pharmacy and the OHSU School of Nursing campuses outside the Portland area will take place June 13-15.

“As Oregon’s academic health center, one of our most important duties is educating the next generation of leaders who will advance human health in our state, our nation and the world,” said OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS.  “On the occasion of convocation, we celebrate a new generation of health care professionals, educators and researchers. I am confident that their experiences at OHSU have prepared them to impact the health and well-being of people in Oregon and beyond.”

The OHSU School of Dentistry will award 96 degrees this year.

“The OHSU School of Dentistry has a 120-year tradition of graduating leaders in their respective fields,” said Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. “Our graduates represent the bright future of oral health care, exhibiting compassion and impeccable clinical skills. There is no doubt that the class of 2019 will continue this long-lived tradition.”

The OHSU School of Medicine will award 480 degrees and certificates.

“At OHSU, learning is a dialogue in which faculty share their knowledge while also learning from and being challenged by our students. Increasingly, our learners’ diverse experiences and passions are shaping the practice of medicine and the pursuit of biomedical science. I look forward to celebrating our community of learning, the mentorship and contributions of our faculty, and our students’ tremendous accomplishments at commencement on Monday,” said Sharon Anderson, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine.

The OHSU School of Nursing will award 496 degrees and certificates.

“OHSU School of Nursing is the only school in Oregon with a statewide mission and one of six schools of nursing nationally recognized by the RWJ Foundation for population health practice and education,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of the OHSU School of Nursing. “We educate nurses across the state, in rural and urban areas, to improve health and health care. Our 2019 graduates are well-prepared for evidence-based direct care, leadership, teaching, and research.”

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will award 85 degrees and certificates.

“The graduates of the class of 2019 are entering the public health field at a very important time for Oregon and our nation,” said David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “We need future public health leaders now more than ever. 2018 was the first time in U.S. history that life expectancy declined three years in a row. We have the most expensive health care system in the world with the worst outcomes of any industrialized democracy. We will not be able to treat our way out of this crisis. We need public health practitioners, scientists and educators to move upstream to address social determinants of health at the population level. Our graduates will reverse deaths to the opioid epidemic, create affordable housing and prevent homelessness, establish universal access to early childhood education to create successful lifelong pathways, reverse the toxic stress of racism and other forms of hatred and solve the problems of tomorrow that we do not yet realize today. They are our future health and well-being.”

The OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will award 96 degrees.

“I am proud to join the faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy in congratulating the class of 2019 on their achievements,” said Mark Leid, Ph.D., interim dean of the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy “Whether they choose to pursue postgraduate training or public health opportunities, or practice in hospital or community settings, our graduates are well prepared to make impactful contributions to the profession and lead efforts to improve health and wellness in all populations they serve.”

Meet some of OHSU’s 2019 graduates

Lenin Aquino, D.M.D. – OHSU School of Dentistry

Lenin Aquino, D.M.D.
Lenin Aquino, D.M.D.

Like many immigrant children, Lenin Aquino experienced the U.S. health care system early on as an unofficial medical interpreter for his Mexican-born parents in rural Molalla, Oregon. The experience inspired him to become a dentist.

He can finally accomplish that long-held goal after graduating from the OHSU School of Dentistry. It hasn’t been easy, however. Aquino came to the U.S. with his family when he was just 7 years old. He learned English on the fly by intently listening to teachers and classmates in school.

As an undocumented immigrant, Aquino became frustrated when he saw his peers planning for their futures when his future seemed uncertain. Determined, he worked his way through college, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in biology from Pacific University in 2008. He then attended Concordia University to take additional pre-requisites needed to apply to dental school.

Aquino – a certified arborist – started a tree service company with his father and brother shortly afterward. Even while attending OHSU, he continued work with the business.

He looks forward to giving back to the United States. Aquino plans to care for underserved communities such as rural residents or immigrants.

“As a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, I’m grateful for the opportunities this country has given to me,” he said. “Even though I had to go through so many hurdles to get there, I wouldn’t change it. From the bottom of my heart, I’m very, very thankful.”

Daelyn Richards, Ph.D. – OHSU School of Medicine 

Daelyn Richards, Ph.D.
Daelyn Richards, Ph.D.

Inspired by her scientist parents and a faculty mentor, Daelyn Richards has raised $435,000 in the past year for research related to phenylketonuria, or PKU, a debilitating genetic disease that can cause long-term damage to the central nervous system.

After receiving a doctoral degree in molecular and medical genetics from the OHSU School of Medicine, Richards will attend Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. She plans to fuse her research with medicine to bring therapies to people with rare disorders.

She learned early from her mother, a clinical molecular geneticist, the impact science can have on human life. “She is passionate about rare disorders, a passion I embrace, and while she is on the diagnostic side of genetics, I knew I wanted to be on the treatment side,” Richards said

Richards also draws on her experience seeing her father struggle with Alzheimer’s. She worked in a variety of jobs in customer service and medical assisting after his death, but realized she wasn’t fulfilling her destiny. She earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and chemistry from Portland State University, and then came to OHSU for graduate studies.

While at OHSU, Richards also lobbied for the Medical Nutrition Equity Act in Washington, D.C. She mentors K-12 and undergraduate students, volunteers with the Children’s Cancer Association at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, and received the 2019 OHSU Graduate Student Organization Leadership in Service award.

Candace Sherman, R.N., B.S.N. – OHSU School of Nursing

Candace Sherman, R.N., B.S.N.
Candace Sherman, R.N., B.S.N.

At age 12, Candace Sherman choked on a gumball and nearly died. Luckily, her best friend’s dad knew what to do and saved her life.

It is because of this experience that Sherman grew up wanting to know how to respond to health emergencies. Sherman is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the OHSU School of Nursing’s La Grande Campus.

Prior to nursing school, Sherman, a mother of five, earned an associate’s degree in medical assisting and worked as a medical transcriptionist for 10 years.

“I see huge potential in our rural health care communities in Eastern Oregon and would love to work closely with various teams and rural residents to improve the health care delivery,” Sherman said.

After graduation, she plans to stay in La Grande and become a hospice nurse. She wants to focus on continuing her education and improving her practice. 

“The OHSU faculty on the La Grande Campus is such a solid team, and I will be a better nurse in the future for having known and worked with all of them,” she said.

Sarah Andrea, Ph.D. - OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Sarah Andrea, Ph.D.
Sarah Andrea, Ph.D.

Sarah Andrea’s journey has been about breaking barriers. The youngest of six from a working-class Rhode Island family, Andrea became the first – and only – one in her family to attend college.

Like many first-generation students, Andrea couldn’t decide what to study. She changed her major four times before landing on microbiology as an undergraduate. Now, Andrea is earning a doctorate in epidemiology from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.

She credits a mentor, Kimberle Chapin, M.D., with her success. Chapin recognized Andrea’s curiosity, work ethic and the barriers she faced, and helped clear her a path forward in health, science and research.

While completing her master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics at OHSU, Andrea realized she wanted to lead her own research team. Her research investigates strategies to reduce race-, class- and gender-based inequities in health that originate early in life.

Her dissertation was informed by her personal history. “Many women in my family are waitresses, tip earners. My research begins to answer previously unanswered questions like: ‘Do women in these occupations experience a greater burden of poor health? What are the implications of tipped work for their children’s health? – questions I knew needed to be asked because of my lived experience.”

She’s also spent much of her life removing barriers for others. “I’ve been intimately aware that this path wasn’t designed for people like me. I care deeply about making this an experience that if people want access to this, they can have that.”

Odaisa Igwe, Pharm.D. – OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy

Odaisa Igwe, Pharm.D.
Odaisa Igwe, Pharm.D.

Odaisa always knew that she wanted to go into health care. She grew up in Portland as one of nine siblings and the daughter of a first-generation Nigerian immigrant. She is the first of her family to receive a doctoral degree and attributes her work ethic and drive to her upbringing.

Her initial interest in pharmacy came from her neighborhood pharmacist who owned his own pharmacy in Portland.

“I was attracted to the profession because of the unique opportunity pharmacists have to care for the most vulnerable populations in the management of their disease states,” Odaisa said. “The pharmacy profession allows us to improve patient quality of life, no matter the circumstances.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University before joining the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy. Odaisa was recognized for her continued involvement and dedication to the local chapter of the American Pharmacist Association’s Academy of Student Pharmacists. She is also a member of Rho Chi Honor Society, a two-time recipient of the Fred Meyer Scholarship and was nominated by her classmates for the Unsung Hero Award.

Following graduation, Odaisa will complete a pharmacy residency at Legacy Health’s Randall Children’s Hospital with the goal of becoming a pediatric pharmacist.


Graduation ceremony details

A convocation ceremony for all OHSU schools will take place at 1 p.m., Monday, June 3, 2019, at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in downtown Portland.

Shortly following the ceremony, graduates of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will move to their individual school hooding ceremonies to be recognized for their academic achievements. OHSU administration will host receptions for all graduates, faculty, family and friends following the ceremonies.

Hooding ceremonies for the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will take place at 1 p.m., Friday, June 14, at the LaSells Stewart Center in the Austin Auditorium, 875 S.W. 26th St. in Corvallis. More information is on the College of Pharmacy website.

Ceremonies for the OHSU School of Nursing campuses in Ashland, Klamath Falls, La Grande and Monmouth will take place June 13, 14 and 15. More information is on the School of Nursing website.


2018 OHSU Convocation
Graduates at the 2018 OHSU Convocation. (OHSU/John Valls)


OHSU 2019 Degree Data

Total degrees given during 2018-19 school year: 1,253

OHSU School of Dentistry – 96 total degrees

Doctor of Dental Medicine – 73

Master of Science – 9

Advanced Education – 14

OHSU School of Medicine – 480 total degrees

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) – 121

Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (M.D./M.P.H.) – 6

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – 28

  • Behavioral Neuroscience – 7
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – 1
  • Biomedical Engineering – 5
  • Cell & Developmental Biology – 2
  • Computer Science & Engineering – 2
  • Molecular & Medical Genetics – 2
  • Neuroscience – 6
  • Physiology & Pharmacology – 3

Master’s degrees – 194

  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics & Computational Biomedicine – 1
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering – 3
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics – 5
  • Master of Science in Computer Science & Engineering – 4
  • Master of Science in Food Systems & Society – 7
  • Master of Science in Health & Clinical Informatics – 12
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management – 35
  • Master of Science in Human Nutrition – 10
  • Master of Science in Medical Physics – 6
  • Master of Biomedical Informatics – 15
  • Master of Business Administration – 39
  • Master of Clinical Research – 16
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies – 41

Graduate certificates – 48

  • Biomedical Informatics – 13
  • Dietetic Internship – 16
  • Healthcare Management – 5
  • Human Investigations Program – 14

Bachelor’s degrees – 53

  • Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science – 45
  • Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy – 8

Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic – 30

OHSU School of Nursing – 496 total degrees

Doctor of Nursing Practice – 28

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – 5

Post-Master certificate – 1

Master’s degrees – 85

  • Master of Nursing in Adult Gerontology Acute Care – 12
  • Master of Nursing in Family Nurse Practitioner – 20
  • Master of Nursing in Health Systems & Organizational Leadership – 7
  • Master of Nursing in Nurse Anesthesia – 10
  • Master of Nursing in Nursing Education – 8
  • Master of Nursing in Nurse Midwifery – 11
  • Master of Nursing in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – 6
  • Master of Nursing in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – 11

Bachelor of Science – 377

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health – 85 total degrees

Doctorate degrees – 3

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology – 2
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Systems & Policy – 1

Master’s degrees – 78

  • Master of Science in Biostatistics – 4
  • Master of Science in Health Studies – 2
  • Master of Public Health in Biostatistics – 3
  • Master of Public Health in Epidemiology – 20
  • Master of Public Health in Environmental Systems & Human Health – 4
  • Master of Public Health in Health Management & Policy – 17
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion – 14
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion and Social Work – 3
  • Master of Public Health in Primary Health & Health Disparities – 11

Certificates – 4

  • Certificate in Biostatistics – 1
  • Certificate in Public Health – 3

OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy – 96 total degrees

Franny White, Rosina Grove, Christi Richardson-Zboralski, Bekki Mossman, and Jin Bynum contributed to this story.

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