Master of Physician Assistant Studies and School of Nursing classes mark commencement

Four physician assistant graduates stand side-by-side in their regalia.
Graduates of the School of Health Professions Master of Physician Assistant Studies on Dec. 8.


Forty-eight members of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2023 graduated on Dec. 8. A week later, the School of Nursing celebrated the graduation of 203 students.

Wide shot of the Holly Auditorium filled with graduates and their families.The Master of Physician Assistant Studies commencement ceremony, held in the Holly Auditorium, marks the successful completion of the 30-month MPAS program. Jacqueline Mok, PhD, vice president of academic, faculty and student affairs for The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, noted in her remarks during the ceremony that this year’s class includes students from both the San Antonio and Laredo campuses. The MPAS program expanded to the UT Education and Research Center at Laredo campus in 2021. Eight of the graduates attended the program in Laredo.

“You are just really supremely educated professionals entering the next phase of your career, and we could not be more proud of you,” Mok said.

School of Health Professions Dean David Shelledy, PhD, RRT, FAARC, FASAHP, reminded the graduates to show compassion to their patients and to “take time to provide the care and attention they need.”

The path to becoming a PA isn’t an easy one, Erica Hernandez told her fellow classmates and guests during her remarks on behalf of the class.

“Everyone here is collectively responsible for the success of our class,” Hernandez said. “Let us approach our profession with humility, empathy and a commitment to lifelong learning.”

Commencement speaker DeAndra Ransom, PA-C, a 2013 alumna of the MPAS program, encouraged graduates to find a mentor, be flexible and treat support staff with kindness and patience. She also encouraged them to take care of their own mental health and to consider paying forward the support they have received.

“Don’t be afraid to become a mentor yourself one day,” she said.

Six nursing graduates in their regalia are lined up and smiling.
School of Nursing fall 2023 graduates.

The School of Nursing held its commencement ceremony Dec. 15 at St. Mary’s University, where 101 students from the traditional track and 96 from the accelerated track were awarded their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. An additional six students received their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.

All graduates successfully completed a comprehensive nursing program, which emphasizes the integration of liberal arts and sciences into nursing practice, equipping them to deliver high-quality care across diverse health care settings.

Their education focused on evidence-based practice, technology utilization, advocacy for improved health care systems and ethical conduct. Their holistic approach to patient care is set to make a significant impact in the community by filling crucial roles that contribute toward population health.

The event featured Mary Lee Potter, PhD, RN, director of professional nursing practice at Methodist Hospital Metropolitan, as the keynote speaker.

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