Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences (PA College), central Pennsylvania’s preeminent educational institution for the healthcare field, will hold its graduation ceremony for 531 students on Wednesday, May 17 from 7-9 p.m. The ceremony will take place in the Convention Center at Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, and will also be available via livestream.

The Commencement celebrates the 117th year in the life of Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. President Dr. Mary Grace Simcox will preside over the Commencement exercises, and John O’Leary will be the keynote speaker.

O’Leary has been recognized by dozens of groups for his work with youth and families, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. Louis University, Vistage International, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and more. When he was 9 years old, an accident caused severe burning on his entire body, giving him a one percent chance of survival. O’Leary channeled his childhood tragedy into a career of service and inspiration for millions of people throughout the world. His story is one of overcoming tragedy, personal strength, and turning disadvantage into success. O’Leary is now an acclaimed speaker to appreciative audiences all over the world and for a large and diverse list of corporate clients.

“It’s a privilege to come together with families and friends of our graduates to recognize them for their hard work and commitment to the healthcare profession,” said Dr. Simcox. “This graduation ceremony will be a bittersweet one, as it’s the last commencement ahead of our upcoming merger with Saint Joseph’s University, but it will be a legacy event as we welcome our students into the ranks of the many great alumni who have gone before them.”

During the ceremony, four students will receive doctoral degrees, 38 students will receive master’s degrees, 136 will receive bachelor’s degrees, 303 will receive associate’s degrees, three will receive post-master’s certificates, and 50 will receive professional certificates.

For more information, please visit our graduation page.

PA College News

We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:

Student Spotlight

Honey Dew ’21, ’23, RN

RN to BSN program

Honey Dew was born in a refugee camp in Thailand in 1998, after her parents fled political violence in their native Burma.  Conditions in the camp were poor; her family of five shared a simple bamboo hut with no running water. Health care resources were minimal and Honey’s rudimentary schooling was supported entirely through donations from international aid organizations.  “When I was ten years old, my parents decided to move to the United States so that my two siblings and I could have a better life and education,” Honey shares. The family’s relocation was sponsored by Lititz Church of the Brethren and after arriving in 2008, “my life changed forever,” she adds.

When Honey started fifth grade at Warwick Elementary School, she didn’t speak any English and she initially struggled to adapt. Eventually, with help from ESL tutors and volunteers at the church who helped her with homework, Honey thrived.  She and her family have connected with other Burmese refugees in Lancaster County who speak the same native language of Karen; many of whom were resettled here through the support of the Habecker Mennonite Church, where they now worship together.

As a child, Honey dreamed of becoming a doctor. Later, she decided to pursue her dream of helping others in need through nursing and earned her Associate of Science in Nursing degree from PA College in 2021. She currently works full-time as an RN at Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital while enrolled in our RN to BSN program. When she thinks about her nursing career, Honey shares: “I hope my work will impact my patients by letting them know that they are not alone and that there is someone who cares for them and will do their best to make them feel better emotionally and physically.  One day, I’d like to return to Thailand and help refugees in need,” she adds.

Alumni Spotlight

Lydia Fetterman Sheffer ’19, RDMS, RVT  

Travel Sonographer

Lydia Sheffer ’19 realized her passion for health care early on. During her sophomore year of high school, she participated in the Lancaster General Hospital Student Volunteer Program and shadowed staff in the X-Ray, CT and Ultrasound Departments. Through completion of this program, she earned a scholarship to attend PA College. She began her journey in our Diagnostic Medical Sonography program through dual enrollment during her junior and senior years at Solanco High School, graduating there in 2018 and then completing her PA College associate degree just over a year later.

“My dream going into ultrasound was to travel the country through work,” shares Lydia. After graduating from PA College Cum Laude, she was inducted into the Lambda Nu National Honor Society for Radiologic and Imaging Sciences. Lydia was soon able to put her academic excellence to the test after she was hired at three different hospitals. “Through my experience at these facilities, I was able to grow as a sonographer in different areas including general, vascular and pediatric ultrasound,” Lydia adds. With this valuable experience, she then took her first step toward achieving her goal of professional travel. In the past year and a half, Lydia has worked as a travel sonographer in Montana, Michigan, Massachusetts and Idaho.

As she embarks on her career, Lydia hopes to help make the world a better place by being a strong patient advocate.  “It is our job as health care providers to educate patients and have their back. Not everyone has the same health care knowledge that we do and in a system that is very monetarily driven, patients’ voices can get lost,” she says.  She is also continuing her education and broadening her professional scope. In addition to Abdomen, OB/GYN, and Vascular Sonography, Lydia hopes to add registration in Pediatric Sonography this year. She plans to begin classes to earn her bachelor’s degree within the next few years.

“I would love to get involved as an ultrasound instructor someday and give back to the next generation of Sonographers,” Lydia explains. She enjoys working with ultrasound students during their clinical rotations, helping them grow and feel more confident in themselves and their skills. To those students, she offers: “Don’t be scared of clinicals. Clinicals are your opportunity to experience the job you will most likely be doing for many years to come. This is the time to get hands-on experience, ask questions and better yourself in a real-world environment.”

Lydia and her husband Lucas are living in Twin Falls, Idaho for her current travel assignment. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cross stitching and exploring the areas they are living. The Sheffers aspire to visit all fifty states and all the national parks in the United States. They also enjoy making videos to document their travel adventures, shared on YouTube and Instagram @Lucas_LydiaTV.


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!

PA College News