Valpo Graduates First Class of Physician Assistant Students

Valparaiso University hosted a graduation ceremony for the inaugural master of science in physician assistant studies class on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

Nineteen students comprised the first cohort of the five-year program, and many of them have already accepted positions in Northwest Indiana to increase access to health care in the region.

While signifying the end of one phase, graduation ceremonies often encourage participants to look toward the future, a theme touched on in speakers’ remarks.

“Graduates, as you approach a new beginning, how will you take the lessons and experiences from Valpo into your careers as compassionate and prepared health care workers?” asked Interim Provost Richard A. Gillman, D.A.

Interim President-Elect Colette Irwin-Knott '81 speaking from podium
Interim President-Elect Colette Irwin-Knott ’81 addresses the graduates

The traditional yet physically distanced white coat ceremony signified the culmination of the two-year master’s-level portion of the program. After receiving their bachelor’s degree in health science from Valpo in 2018, the cohort matriculated into the graduate program, which consists of both classroom learning and clinical rotations in seven core disciplines to meet standards defined by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA): family medicine, pediatric medicine, women’s health, behavioral health, emergency medicine, surgery and internal medicine.

The event also marks an important milestone in the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ recent expansion and trajectory of growth. In 2015–2016, the College welcomed this inaugural cohort of the physician assistant studies program while also launching a bachelor’s/master’s program in public health. More recently, a post-professional doctor of occupational therapy program was introduced in 2019.

“The addition of the physician assistant program has not only benefited the mission of the college, but the University’s goals overall. Valpo is committed to providing cutting-edge academic programs that prepare our graduates for meaningful lives in a world that needs them,” said Colette Irwin Knott ’81, interim president-elect.

Dean Karen Allen, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and Kim Malavolti ’20, president of the PA student society, also offered remarks. Afterward, faculty mentors presented graduates with their white coats, graduates and faculty recited the PA oath and the inaugural cohort of physician assistant graduates of Valparaiso University were presented and officially welcomed into the profession.

Visit for more information about physician assistant studies at Valparaiso university.


Kim Malavolti ’20, President of the PA Student Society
Joseph Zaweski, MPAS, PA-C, Assistant Dean and Program Director
Dean Karen Allen, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, congratulates a PA graduate