SLU Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2025 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony
The Saint Louis University (SLU) Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Class of 2025 recently celebrated its initiation into the professional phase of the program by hosting a white coat ceremony. The ceremony took place at SLU’s Saint Francis Xavier College Church during SLU’s Homecoming and Family Weekend and celebrated 88 students advancing to the professional phase of the program.
In addition, the white coat ceremony included an address from SLU Doisy College of Health Sciences Dean Bernard Rousseau, Ph.D., MMHC, FASHA; SLU Interim Chairperson of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training Chris Sebelski, PT, DPT, Ph.D.; student speaker Jemma Kim, SPT; and the awarding of the Florence Kendall Service Award to Thomas Harrison Richey II, PT.
The students from the DPT Class of 2025 were presented their white coats by students from the DPT Class of 2023, who are in their third and final professional year of the program. Kim, the student speaker for the ceremony and one of the DPT Class of 2023 students who presented the white coats, discussed how much of an honor it was address the DPT Class of 2025 and to help them recognize their accomplishments.
“One message that I wanted to convey was that there are so many people – family members, friends, faculty members and staff – that are so proud of them. Receiving your white coat is a huge accomplishment that should not be taken lightly,” Kim said. “I wanted all the students to take a moment to stop and reflect on how far they had come. I wanted them to reflect on their own reasons why they wanted to become a physical therapist in the first place, and what type of physical therapist they want to be.”
Elizabeth Beffa, one of the DPT Class of 2025 students being honored at the ceremony, explained what it felt like to be recognized in front of friends, family and program faculty.
“I felt extremely honored to receive my white coat. This was something that I, as well as my peers, have worked hard towards over the last few years,” Beffa said. “I am the first member of my family to pursue a career in the medical field and it was an amazing feeling to be able to celebrate this accomplishment with my family, friends and faculty of the PT program.”
Beffa has known she wanted to be a physical therapist since seeing her brother participate in intensive physical therapy and a very young age and has been working towards that goal ever since.
“Physical therapy is something I am very passionate about and being able to share that passion at the white coat ceremony with fellow classmates, family, friends and faculty was something for which I was extremely grateful,” Beffa said. “The white coat ceremony is truly one of the first steps towards the rest of our careers and having the chance to take part in the ceremony was an amazing opportunity.”
Dr. Sebelski explained how the ceremony is not only intended as a celebration of student accomplishments, but also as a meaningful and symbolic event.
“Many positive comments were received regarding the appropriate solemnity of the ceremony,” Dr. Sebelski said. “There is an intentional welcoming to the profession by the Professional Year (PY) 3 DPT students who ‘coat’ the PY1students and through the nominated speakers – Ms. Jemma Kim as the student speaker and Mr. Thomas Richey II, the Florence Kendall awardee. For those physical therapists in attendance, it is a moment of renewal that strengthens our passion for the profession and the patients we serve.”
Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.