Earlier this month, the Duke Physician Assistant Program class of 2002 hosted their 20-year class reunion.
As part of the reunion weekend, the alumni hosted a "Summer Brunch Meet & Greet" for the class of 2022 just before they embark on their careers as physician assistants (PA).
Nearly half the class of 2002 attended the event from all over the country. The morning included a local waffle truck as well as coffee and pastries.
In addition to providing waffles, the class of 2002 raised more than $2700 to donate to the Duke PA Program's Hamilton-Carter scholarship in honor of the class of 2022. This scholarship honors two former Duke PA Program directors who helped steer the program's mission, direction, and growth. Recipients must have a strong match to the program's mission.
Marty Nelson, MHS, PA-C ('02), described the day, saying, "We mingled for an hour or so, and then our class president gathered us in the shade, and we shared who we are, and what we are doing now, provided reassurance and pearls and then opened the floor to some excellent questions."
Karl Kruszynski, MHS (' 02), Stead President of the Class of 2002, added, "Meeting the students in the class of 2022 was a highlight of our reunion weekend. I recognized in the students' questions some of the excitement and worry that I faced twenty years ago. I hope we could provide some reassurance that Duke has prepared them well for a successful PA career."
The students then joined the alumni to tour the Duke PA Program building. In 2002 the program had 44 students and was located in a shared space on-campus. It moved to its current location in 2009, where it has expanded facilities and can accommodate the current class size of 90.
While the brunch held special meaning to the alumni, for the class of 2022, it served as a short respite from the hectic month before graduation. The students saw a promise of the future they have worked towards for the last two years.
2nd-year student Helen Cheng said, "It was so endearing to see the alumni's faces brighten as they reunite and catch up with one another after so many years since graduating PA school. As anxious 2nd year students close to graduation, it is hard for us to see what life would be like in 20 years, but after meeting so many wonderful clinicians from the class of 2002 we are reminded that we have bright futures ahead."
One goal of the brunch was to forge new connections and mentorships between the two classes.
Gail Albergo, MHS, PA-C, ('02) said the event was a "celebration of our own fond memories as Duke PA students 20 years ago. We enjoyed not only being together, but also bringing together and engaging with the newest PA school class. Our shared experiences and personal connections are priceless and will make a lasting difference in all our lives as we follow our careers as Duke-educated Physician Assistants."