UPIKE celebrates the class of 2020 with virtual commencement ceremonies

The University of Pikeville honored the academic achievements of more than 270 graduates at the associate, baccalaureate and master’s degree levels in its first-ever virtual commencement on May 2. Sixty-One Doctor of Optometry degree recipients from the inaugural graduating class of UPIKE’s Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) joined 123 Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine degree recipients from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) in a separate virtual commencement. Both ceremonies were held virtually in response to COVID-19 restrictions and are available for viewing at Pikeville.stageclip.com. 

Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine and Kentucky College of Optometry

Steven J. Stack, M.D., MBA, FACEP, delivered the keynote address for the KYCO and KYCOM virtual commencement ceremony. He congratulated the new graduates, reminding them that the world in which they are beginning the next phase of their clinical journeys will be unlike any other.

“On the road that lies ahead, let compassion be your compass,” Stack explained. “As healers, how you connect with your patients and show them you care are some of the most important choices you make and skills you learn. Be competent, be confident and be professional, but always be compassionate.”

Stack was appointed commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health by Governor Andy Beshear in February 2020. He resides in Lexington, Ky., and is a practicing emergency physician.  

For more than 20 years, Stack has been a leader in the medical profession. He has served on boards of directors and in senior leadership roles for numerous geographic and specialty medical societies.

William T. Betz, D.O., MBA, FACOFP dist., and Steven R. Harris, Ph.D., were both awarded the honor of Faculty Emeritus in the ceremony. 

College of Arts and Sciences, Coleman College of Business, College of Nursing and Human Services and Patton College of Education

Commencement marked the end of a successful journey and a new beginning for graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, Coleman College of Business, College of Nursing and Human Services and Patton College of Education. 

Valedictorians for the Class of 2020 were Skyler Paige Chapman, Lacy Cecile May, Hannah Blair Skaggs and Taylor M. Sowards. Ashley Nicole Justice earned the distinction of Salutatorian.

UPIKE President Burton J. Webb, Ph.D., gave the commencement address during which he expressed pride for the new graduates on behalf of the entire UPIKE family, even at a distance. During the ceremony, Webb remarked on how this commencement is not the end, but the beginning. He challenged the graduates to be lifelong learners. 

“Graduates, our faculty have prepared you well for the successes that lie ahead,” said Webb. “Go out into this world and be light and inspiration to those around you. May God bless each of you.”

Theresa Dawahare, M.A., associate professor of education, and Timothy Whittier, Ph.D., professor of biology and director of study abroad, were honored as the first- and second-place recipients, respectively, of the William Wade and Helen Record Walker Teaching Excellence Award. John Howie, Ph.D., professor of psychology, was awarded the honor of Faculty Emeritus.

Commencement week activities for the College of Nursing and Human Services also included the virtual pinning ceremonies for eight new professional social workers and 44 new nurses.

Jeremy Goodson, UPIKE class of 2020 celebrating commencement with his family at home.
Jeremy Goodson, UPIKE class of 2020, celebrated commencement at home with his wife and daughters. 
Sha'Mia Stinson, O.D., KYCO class of 2020.
Sha’Mia Stinson O.D., KYCO class of 2020-Photo credit: Jared Dingle
Kory Brinker, D.O., KYCOM class of 2020 celebrating with his family.
Kory Brinker D.O., KYCOM class of 2020, second from left, celebrated commencement with his wife and family.