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The Class of Personality Is Honored in a Beautiful Graduation Ceremony

On Friday, May 12th, the Class of 2017 was honored with the conferring of their Doctor of Optometry degree in an exceptional ceremony, held at the signature facility on the UMSL campus, the beautiful Touhill Performing Arts Center.  This group was aptly named the “Class of personality” before they even initiated their first day of classes in August, 2013. They were honored on a beautiful day, very reminiscent of two years earlier when they were awarded their white coat.

These 42 young doctors were led onto the stage by their student marshal, as selected by the faculty, Dr. Coral Pucci.  The Class of 2017 was awarded many honors, including several individuals who were notably recognized.  This included Dr. Elias Toubia who received both the Beta Sigma Kappa Silver Medal award for academic distinction and the M. Earl McClellan Dean’s Award, sponsored by the Missouri Optometric Foundation, for outstanding scholarship.  Dr. Morgan Poore was awarded the prestigious Missouri Optometric Foundation Award for Excellence in Clinical Skills in addition to other awards provided by the Office of Student Services and the contact lens faculty.  Dr. Kelsey Haugen was awarded numerous honors including the most outstanding tutor and teaching assistant award.

The highest honor, however, was awarding of the Doctor of Optometry degree.  Chancellor Thomas George, with assistance from Dr. Larry Davis, Dean of the College, conferred the degrees.  Master of Ceremonies, Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Julie DeKinder, read the name of each honoree, who then crossed the stage and was hooded by Drs. Ed Bennett and Vinita Henry.

The Commencement Speaker was W. Raymond Barrett who is chairman and founder of Biomedical Systems, a global provider of centralized diagnostic services with corporate headquarters in St. Louis.  A renowned entrepreneur, he is one of only a handful of individuals in the United States to have built – from scratch – two highly successful companies in unrelated fields.  Among the individuals he has collaborated with is Professor Carl Bassi from the College of Optometry.

The ceremony concluded with Dr. Scott Ream(’87) representing both the Missouri Optometric Foundation and all of the College alumni giving a charge to our new alumni to remember to give back to their alma mater when they are able to do so.  After the recessional, it was time for photos, both group photos inside and individual and photos with loved ones outside on a most picturesque day.  It was a wonderful ceremony for a very deserving and beloved class who will be in our hearts forever.

Dean Larry Davis with Commencement Speaker, W. Raymond Barrett

Dean Larry Davis, Assistant Dean Ed Bennett, and Clinical Professor Vinita Henry

Two friends and classmates who are parents of members of the Class of 2017, Dr. JD Roberts (’88), father of Dr. Mike Roberts, and Dr. Tami Soriano (’88), mother of Dr. Tori Soriano.

Assistant Dean Ed Bennett with new graduate Dr. Michael Wilson, and his proud older brother, Dr. Josh Wilson (’06)


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