Published on September 12, 2017 by Olivia Halverson  
Physical Therapy Photo

Samford University honored 31 third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students recently at its first-ever commissioning ceremony, celebrating their transition from classroom learning to their final year of clinical rotations. 

This cohort of graduate students will be the first to graduate from Samford’s physical therapy program in May 2018. 

The ceremony was largely planned and implemented by students under the leadership of Lauren Evans and Ryan Smeltzer. They worked closely with other students and faculty to create a ceremony that was unique to their cohort and profession. 

One unique element was their choice to not include a tangible element of symbolism. “No white coat, no pin, no certificate—the students decided they wanted to focus on the meaning and purpose of the event,” said assistant professor Sarah Ross. 

Instead, the ceremony focused on a time of prayer, scripture readings and encouraging words that would empower students as they move forward into real patient care.  

Bob Lujano was the event’s keynote speaker. He is a quad-amputee and the author of No Arms, No Legs, No Problems. He also serves on the Department of Physical Therapy’s advisory board. Lujano shared his testimony with students, challenging them to be courageous in meeting their future patients’ needs. 

“Above all,” Evans said, “Bob Lujano reminded us that no patient is a statistic. They are a person, first and foremost with families and lives just like everyone else.” 

Smeltzer echoed Evans’ sentiments toward Lujano, saying “Bob Lujano was the perfect person to reenergize us and remind all of us why we came to physical therapy school in the first place.” 

Associate Professor Scott Bickel spoke on the scripture lesson found in 1 Peter 4:10. “The whole idea is that the students are being sent out to use their gifts,” he said. “Not just talk about it, hear about it or learn about it, but to go and do it.” 

Bickel hopes that future cohorts of students will continue this event as an annual tradition. 

“I hope this is something the students will consider doing each year,” Bickel said. “I think it is important to recognize how God has been very gracious to Samford and its students. For it is God’s grace in their lives that allows them the opportunity to do these things.” 

Olivia Halverson is a journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in the College of Health Sciences.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.