For this special edition of “People of PA College,” we share an excerpt of the Student Address offered by Laura Fisher and Karen Lupfer during our 2019 Commencement Ceremony on May 16. Laura and Karen are members of PA College’s first cohort of our new three-year, accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, and now, proud graduates.

Laura Fisher ’19 and Karen Lupfer ’19

Laura Fisher & Karen Lupfer

Karen: There is a popular saying often plastered in sports locker rooms: “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” Both history and popular culture prove that this is true. For example…

Karen: Louis and Clark, brave explorers

Laura: Snoopy and Woodstock, loyal friends

Karen: Holmes and Watson, mystery solvers

Laura: Simon and Garfunkel, musical geniuses

Karen: Buzz and Woody, action hero pals

Laura: Karen and Laura…

Just kidding! We aren’t a world-renowned duo. But, like the famous pairs we’ve mentioned, we overcame obstacles and achieved success by relying on one another for help and for support. As we look back through tired eyes over the past few months and years, not only can we recall how every test question appeared to have four correct answers and somehow the one we chose was still wrong, but it’s the common experiences that connect us as a team.

Sometimes it’s the “firsts” that connect us. First day pushing through the doors with wide-eyes, hoping you knew where you were going, you had everything printed out, and that your coffee breath wasn’t that noticeable; first time rushing and lugging the world’s heaviest backpack to your 8 a.m. lecture; first introduction to your classmates while you were scrambling to think of one random fact about yourself to make a good first impression; first predawn shuttle bus ride to your clinical site; and the first moment you realized that you were able to push through those doors because you knew you were entering as part of a team.

Laura: Our team is not just made up of a group of people who happen to inhabit the same cavernous spaces of 850 Greenfield Road. A real team is made up of individuals who may be unequal in experience, talent, age, or education, but who are equal in their commitment to work together to achieve a shared goal.

Our programs may differ, but that doesn’t mean our paths didn’t cross. Some of us worked together to revive a simulation patient and some of us simply offered a pen to a frantic student whose ink had run out just before an exam. Perhaps we’ve electronically interacted to complete Blackboard Wiki’s, PowerPoints, or discussion boards. Or maybe we shared a squeamish moment together during a dissection in A&P to understand how systems within the body interact. Spoiler alert – they, too, interact as a team!

Tonight, as we walk across the stage, we share yet another moment that connects our team. Not only have we earned these stylish caps and gowns, but we’ve also evolved from those wide-eyed students who cautiously pushed through the doors for the first time into capable, compassionate healthcare professionals who will now open doors for others. We are becoming a part of a new team. A team that will not only include healthcare professionals, but our future patients and their families.

Karen: In her memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama shares, “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” Hang on to your seats graduates, our journey together is just beginning.

So we urge you, the graduates, as you move forward, to reflect on the people who are a part of your team and who have helped you become: the people who raised you who didn’t mind the books scattered across the dinner table, your circle of friends who reminded you that there was still a world outside of schoolwork, your classmates who committed to holding your place in line at Starbucks, and your mentors who encouraged you to never give up.

As we wrap up this seemingly endless shift and report off, we encourage you to focus not on who you were when you started this shift, but who and what you have become.

Congratulations, team—we’ve made it!

Seeking People of PA College

Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!

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