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First P.A.s from Wingate's King Street campus to graduate

The first students to enroll in Wingate’s physician assistant program at the Hendersonville campus will graduate on Friday at the George A. Batte Jr. Fine Arts Center in Wingate.

“Determined and resilient” is how Wingate PA Clinical Coordinator Nicole Drake describes the nine students in the inaugural PA class from Hendersonville. The nine began their studies in August of 2013. All have now completed the 27-month program of classwork and clinical rotations required to earn their master’s degrees.

The nine graduates from Hendersonville will join 43 Wingate PA students who have been attending classes at the university’s campus in Wingate. All 52 PA graduates will receive their diplomas at a hooding ceremony. Since medieval times, academic hoods have been part of the robes and regalia worn by those with the highest levels of education. In that tradition, hooding ceremonies are often held for those receiving master’s or doctoral degrees.

The students in Hendersonville’s first PA class come from six states. Many plan to stay in North Carolina after graduating, with several planning to practice in western North Carolina. “I’m glad they chose to come here,” Drake says of the inaugural class members. “They’ve done a great job in helping to establish our PA program here in Hendersonville.”

Wingate University began its physician assistant studies program on the campus in Wingate in 2008. Rosalind Becker, director of Wingate’s PA programs, says Hendersonville’s inaugural PA class “entered uncharted territory and paved the way for future students.” Becker adds, “The faculty is proud of their accomplishment and is honored to have them represent Wingate’s PA program.”

The keynote speaker at the PA ceremony will be Wingate University President Rhett Brown.