Mayor Karen Bass Inspires Future Health Leaders at PA Program White Coat Ceremony
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science’s (CDU) Physician Assistant (PA) Program’s Class of 2023 received their long white coats in a special ceremony held on the University’s campus before the year-end holiday break. The event featured Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass as the keynote speaker as well as remarks from PA program faculty, CDU administration, PA program class leaders, and PA program alumni.
“When the PA profession was created, the purpose and central focus was to serve people in underserved, underresourced, underrepresented areas of our nation,” said Mayor Bass. “To this day, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science continues this focus and prepares health professionals who are dedicated to social justice and health equity.”
Mayor Bass, the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city’s chief executive, served as a front-line healthcare provider as a Physician Assistant and nurse before launching her social justice pursuits to help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA through public policy.
Mayor Bass lauded the graduating class for their achievement, commitment, and dedication to health equity. Her words resonated deeply, echoing the values that have guided the program. She challenged the new PAs to be catalysts for change by becoming active participants in the world of public policy.
“It is my hope that when you are in the world as a board-certified PA that you will reserve just a few hours to be an active participant in the development of the policies that as a PA you understand the best,” she remarked. “I hope to call on you one day to provide testimony at a hearing, share your experiences so politicians and other policy makers have some context.”
During the ceremony, Dr. Lucy Kibe, PA Program Director, presented Mayor Bass with chords and a plaque signifying her honorary induction into Pi Alpha, the national PA honor society.
Following the keynote address, the 24 graduates were presented with their long white coats, a rite of passage marking the end of their formal education at CDU and the beginning of their professional careers.
“The very fabric of the white coat represents the deep fabric of your craft. The relationship between yourselves and your future patients,” explained Dr. Stephanie Bowlin, ’81, who offered congratulatory remarks and led graduates in the recitation of the PA Pledge. “It also represents the art of community, leadership, excellence, diversity, integrity, and compassion…”
After receiving their white coats, the ceremony transitioned to a series of special moments where awards were presented to students, faculty, and alumni. PA Class of 2023 President and Vice President, Veronica Cordero and Daniel Riboh, delivered a class leader address in which they shared reflections on the transformative journey they’d undergone.
The CDU PA program holds the distinction of being the first PA program in the state of California. The graduates represent the newest group of PAs ready to make a difference guided by the principles instilled at CDU.
Click here to view a recording of the ceremony.