The Legacy of the Inaugural PA Class of 2020

The Commencement Ceremony for the PA Class of 2020 marked a milestone for the students in more ways than one: they graduated as the inaugural class from an innovative program that has been recognized for its unique competency-based medical education model. See the Vista View’s July 2018 issue for more about the CBME model.

While the graduation celebration, which was held virtually, was without its usual pomp and circumstance, the PA Program’s faculty and staff still found ways to commemorate the graduates. In addition to the celebration, the class also received several gifts: RVU pins, a custom jacket, graduation programs, and, of course, their framed diplomas.

During the ceremony, Cathy Ruff, PA-C, PA Program Director, remarked upon the student’s impressive feat of helping to establish RVU’s PA Program. “[Like] all good trailblazers, you have left a legacy. You have developed a mentorship program for cohorts that follow, set high standards for professionalism, and supported one another through challenges.”

Keynote speaker Bonnie Randolph, MD, commended the graduates for their resiliency during such a challenging year. “As iron sharpens iron, so you too have been honed into the outstanding providers that your family, friends, colleagues, and instructors can be very proud of.”

Dr. Randolph also spoke to the graduates about legacy. While they have cemented their legacy at RVU, they must now be intentional in the way they reach their professional goals. Investing in relationships, she impressed upon the graduates, is how we lead an extraordinary life of intent. “We build our legacy every day and every hour,” she said, through random acts of kindness, words of encouragement, and investment in our community. As they move into the next phase of their career, Dr. Randolph left the graduates with one question: “How will you choose to leave your legacy?”

Creating legacies that are founded on relationships may not be so difficult for the Class of 2020. Beyond their didactic and clinical experiences at RVU, the graduates said their most precious memories were times spent with their classmates. For many, the highlight of their year wasn’t just winning the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants Challenge Bowl as the new kids on the block, but the specific moment when everyone from the program ran up to the stage to celebrate. Read more about the graduates’ reflections at

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