Connor Carrigan-Class of 2022 Commencement Address August 2022

Welcome students, friends and family, faculty, and guests to the 2022 Emory & Henry Master of Physician Assistant Studies & Doctor of Physical Therapy Graduation Ceremony. My name is Connor Carrigan, and I am the Class of 2022 Physician Assistant Class President. I am honored today to have the opportunity to address my classmates together, one last time before we each begin down our different paths as PAs. It would only be truthful to say that I know today is an emotional day for all of us. It is a day full of well-deserved pride, sense of accomplishment, gratitude, absolute relief…. and also hope. As your peer, I have no advice that I felt I could impart at today’s ceremony. Instead, I made a list of things I hope for us all in everything that comes next.

Hippocrates, well known Greek physician and titled father of medicine, once stated:

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” As we have all experienced over the past 27 months, particularly in completing our education through Covid, medicine can be a very difficult field to work in. This brings me to my first hope. I hope that no matter where you end up, and no matter what challenges life throws at you, I hope you continue to love medicine as much as we all do right now. I think it is our love for medicine that can always bring us back to our humanity, no matter how difficult the times may be.

Looking to the near future, our cohort has many great things ahead of us. Many of you have already accepted positions in a wide variety of specialties. Many of you are also in the process of interviewing for exciting opportunities in front of you. Some of you will be moving on to fellowships for additional training, and some of you plan to take a well deserved break and study hard for boards. As we all transition to practice, I think it is important to remember what role we now take on. Just as you were once inspired by a PA, you now will be in a position to inspire and teach others. My second hope is that you all take pride in teaching and mentoring the next generation of providers. We did it! And soon we will have the opportunity to continue passing that on.

Like many of you, prior to PA school I actually used to enjoy reading… and I do actually mean for fun! It is something I hope to get back to soon. One of my favorite authors, J.R.R Tolkien, wrote a dialogue that stuck with me through the years. In one of his most famous works, it reads “I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” I can say with confidence that I have witnessed a group of seemingly ordinary people do very extraordinary things together over these past two years. It has been a pleasure learning, studying, volunteering, and growing together as providers with you through this program. My last hope is that you never forget it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Let’s continue to make the world a little less dark everyday.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our professors and adjunct faculty for their hard work, dedication to this profession, and determination to see us succeed. I would also like to thank all of our preceptors and clinical sites for our experiences. Thank you to all of the parents, host families, and friends that supported us through this journey. I would also like to thank my wife and all significant others that went through PA school with us, we know it wasn’t easy. Lastly, I want to thank God for being with me every step of the way.

Congratulations class of 2022, I wish you all the very best.