First commencement held at Ruskin campus

Madeline Bruce, Staff Writer

Gannon University’s Ruskin, Fla., campus awarded Occupational Therapy doctoral degrees to 21 students from 11 states last month.
The commencement ceremony was held on Aug. 25 at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Sun City Center, Fla., and was the campus’ inaugural commencement ceremony.
“It’s a historical moment for the university,” said Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs.
“This being the first ceremony at Ruskin, it’s a wonderful example of teamwork and planning.”
Gannon’s Ruskin campus opened in August of 2015 to increase opportunities for students and to help meet the need for health professionals.
The Ruskin campus offers five graduate programs: a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy Doctorate, Master of Athletic Training, Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate and Master of Physician Assistant Science.
The commencement ceremony honored 21 students in the Occupational Doctorate program and awarded them their Occupational Doctoral degrees.
Those graduates are part of the inaugural class for the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program when the campus opened in 2015.

For graduate Meghan Billick and her classmates, the historic ceremony was long-awaited.
They spent their 3.5 years at Ruskin talking about and preparing for the historic big day.
“Ever since our very first day in 2015, when we stepped onto the Ruskin campus, everyone told us we were special,” Billick said.
“Gannon has made us feel just that every single day since.”
A commencement Mass was held at 10 a.m. to celebrate the graduates, the university community and the accomplishment of sending the first graduating class off into the world.
The Mass was followed by a graduate reception and the commencement ceremony, which began at 1 p.m.
“Our class paved the way for many, many years to come,” Billick said, “setting new traditions that will be followed by hundreds of eager students who soon hope to hold their very own diploma in their hands.”
Certainly, current and future students in the Occupational Doctoral cohort will look back on the inaugural graduating class of 2018 and face their graduation with the same levels of excitement that this year’s class did. And, it’s looking like there will be more of them.
“This was our first cohort in the Occupational Therapy cohort, and we are meeting our enrollment projection for the second and third cohort.” Iwanenko said.
“All of the cohort are full.”

[email protected]