2011 Commencement Ceremony
Spirits were high and smiles were wide as names were called and students crossed the stage to receive their coveted diplomas. This year’s graduates numbered over 550 and included the University’s first-ever graduating class of dental hygienists.
The ceremony – held at the renowned UCI Bren Events Center in Irvine – included an array of distinguished speakers. The venue had plenty of room for friends and family to join in the pomp and circumstance, which didn’t disappoint.
Dr. Barry T. Ryan, University President, set the stage for each distinguished guest beginning with Board Chairman and CEO David A. Pyle. Mr. Pyle expressed gratitude to the students for choosing West Coast University, with thanks extending to all the family and friends who supported the graduates’ dream of becoming health care professionals. He applauded the graduates for their hard work to get to this point and encouraged them to use their experience at West Coast University as a springboard to continued life-long learning.
Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Member Honored as a Distinguished Alumnus
Adding to the uniqueness of this memorable event, West Coast University awarded its first â€œDistinguished Alumnus Award. The award- given posthumously to Challenger astronaut and West Coast University graduate, Greg Jarvis – comes during the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle disaster which captivated and saddened the nation. Jarvis was one of seven crew members lost aboard the Challenger. Jarvis’ widow, Marcia Jarvis-Tinsley, since re-married to Ron Tinsley, traveled to California and attended the West Coast University commencement ceremony to accept the award.
Dr. Ryan, University President, commented, “We are tremendously honored to recognize Greg Jarvis with West Coast University’s first ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award.’ I cannot imagine a more fitting initial recipient of the award than this remarkable graduate. Jarvis made extraordinary contributions to his profession and to society. He is an outstanding role model for all of us.”
Also beginning in 2012, the University will inaugurate the Greg Jarvis Simulation Competition and Scholarship, a perpetual reminder of Greg Jarvis’ commitment to helping and inspiring others.
Kyle Maynard Surprises and Inspires
Introducing keynote speaker Kyle Maynard, Dr. Ryan described him as a man with an iron will. That will was evident as he shared his life experience telling the graduates, â€œYou need to do three things to succeed: have a positive attitude, set goals, and then achieve them. That might sound simplistic until put into context.
Maynard was born with a condition known as “congenital amputation” that has left him with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end near his knees. The disability did not stop Maynard from becoming the 2004 ESPY Award Winner (Best Athlete with a Disability) which was included in the ESPN Magazine, ESPN 100 listing the top 100 sports personalities, trends and stories that mattered in 2004. Maynard has been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with the Medal of Courage. In 2005, he set the World Record in the modified bench press at the Arnold Fitness Classic with a bench of 360 pounds.
So when Maynard challenged graduates to have “No excuses!” the theme resonated. Saying this was the closest he’d gotten to college graduation, Kyle told graduates, You’ve inspired me to go back to school, as he praised them for not giving up on their dream of becoming nurses and dental hygienists. He closed with a challenge for graduates to follow their path and not give up: regardless of the economy, the government, the surroundings – there will always be people who will need health care, and there are no big enough excuses to keep you from helping.
A Promising Future
Graduates are looking eagerly to what their future holds. Valedictorian Michele Daru summed things up nicely, “We could not have accomplished this journey through West Coast University without the love and support from our family, friends, faculty and administration. We take with us unforgettable positive memories, lifelong friendships, and an invaluable work ethic that will keep us always striving for excellence.”