SMHS recognizes more than 220 graduating health sciences students

In addition to the 75 new medical doctors graduating from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), the School is recognizing nearly 230 students from its health sciences programs who are graduating on Saturday, May 15.

One of those 200-plus students is Melissa Hayes, a laboratory supervisor who is graduating with her Master of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) degree—at a distance.

“During the past three years attending the UND’s Medical Laboratory Science program, I developed many positive relationships with classmates and the UND MLS teaching team, said Hayes, who serves the Cherokee Nation in the largest Indian Health Center in the United States. “The UND faculty made a positive and profound influence on my educational experience by keeping in touch and guiding me every step of the way. Graduation is enabling me to use education to make a difference in the world.”

Hayes is one of 73 MLS students graduating on May 15.

Laboratory science notwithstanding, health sciences departments represented at UND’s spring Commencement also include not only one doctoral graduate of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, but students from Occupational Therapy (55), Physical Therapy (49), Physician Assistant Studies (29), Master of Public Health (12, not including the program’s additional eight Fall 2020 and Summer 2021 grads), and Athletic Training (10).

“I am so grateful for my time at UND,” added Alissa Dahle-Koch, who is graduating with her Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree this week. “In addition to the support from my classmates, the faculty were always there to help and encourage me to do my best — as a student, as a professional, and in life. UND PT will always be like a family to me!”

Despite the pandemic presenting a variety of challenges, the vast majority remained on track and are excited to be starting their health professions.

“We want to extend congratulations to all of the graduates of the health sciences,” noted Thomas Mohr, associate dean for health sciences at the SMHS. “Most of all, we want to recognize the impact that health sciences graduates will have on the thousands of patients they will work with throughout their careers.”

Over the past 50 years, the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences has graduated nearly 10,000 professionals working in the health sciences in North Dakota and around the country.

“I loved my experience in the OT program!” outgoing Master of Occupational Therapy student Sarah Lovelace said. “The instructors are uniquely invested in student success and offered above-and-beyond support. Transitioning to the workforce is intimidating but I am excited to use what I have learned in this program to positively impact people and the healthcare system.”