West Coast University MHA Program Director Justin Ako poses with the October 2015 MHA cohort after their hooding ceremony at the Center for Graduate Studies, on Nov. 13, 2015.
For the first time in West Coast University history, the Master of Health Administration and Masters of Science in Nursing programs held hooding ceremonies for graduating cohorts.
Firouzeh Levihaim, Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence recipient for the August 2015 MSN cohort, receives her master's hood from WCU Nursing Dean Robyn Nelson.
Master of Science in Nursing
Lori Beth Friedman
Josh Dablo Kwan
Jasmine Hasmik Petrosyan
Rhea Anonuevo Mari
Takouhi Tina Mekharian
Maria Isabel Revil
Master of Health Administration
Friends and families of the graduates met at WCU's Center for Graduate Studies on Nov. 13 to watch as the many months of hard work and study were rewarded with the bestowing of a master's hood and an advanced degree.
Two MSN cohorts received their hoods from WCU Nursing Dean Robyn Nelson during the ceremony. Valarie Renaux from the October 2015 cohort and Firouzeh Levihaim from the August 2015 group were presented with the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence.
“This is their achievement they’ve worked so hard for the past 15 months so it’s a very special day for them,” WCU Chair of Health Administration Justin Ako, DC, BSBA said. “We used to do a luncheon but this is much more celebratory. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them and a way for us to congratulate them as well.”
In another first, Ako said, the MHA cohort had two Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence: Nicole Dimmitt and Sarah Vermillion.
Dimmitt and Vermillion were both gracious in sharing the honor and said they couldn’t have won it — or co-won it — without each other.
“Teamwork,” Dimmitt said. “I wouldn’t be here without her.”
“Today means so much because it seemed like a far-off, distant goal a year and a half ago,” Vermillion said. “Now to be here and have it completed, it feels like such an accomplishment.”
Vermillion and Dimmitt said they chose the MHA program due to the field's flexibility.
“It’s an open field and expanding. You can go anywhere with it. The options with this degree are never-ending,” Dimmitt said.
Dimmitt is still looking for work in healthcare but said Career Services emails her with new job leads almost every day. She said she’s applied recently for five positions and hopes to have an interview soon. Dimmitt worked while in the MHA program and said WCU was a great option for people with families or jobs.
“And you feel like you’re still an individual that’s cared about,” Vermillion chimed in. “I feel like the professors and dean are very careful to make sure they have a relationship with you, that they’re there for you if you need anything so you don’t get lost in the mix.”
Vermillion was hired in May as the director of a Santa Monica fertility clinic and had been juggling work and school for the past few months.
“Now I get to really focus on my career,” Vermillion said.