... 'There's no place like home ...'
PRINCESS ANNE, MD – (Sept. 12, 2013) – Sofia Camacho wanted to do something subtly symbolic for her graduation today from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s physical therapy program.
So she sported a pair of peep-toe pumps with red sequins, which made her stand out among her 25 classmates clad in traditional black regalia as each traversed the stage in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Ella Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts.
“The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies,” Sofia said after the ceremony. “I’ve been away from home for so long, I thought this would be a good way to say ‘there’s no place like home’.”
Sofia, 25, relocated from her Dover, N.H. home to Prince Frederick, Md. several years ago to care for a terminally ill relative. She worked at a local physical therapy clinic nearby, where she met two UMES graduates who encouraged her to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at their alma mater.
After doing research, she discovered UMES limits the number of students it enrolls to ensure personalized instruction, and produces graduates who pass the national licensure exam on the first try.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I really feel like this was the right choice for me. Now, I get to go home to New Hampshire.”
Stephanie Pollitt grew up just up the road in Salisbury, where she was a track athlete and cheerleader in high school. Three surgeries on an injured knee over seven years introduced her to the world of physical therapy as a patient.
Now, she’s going to be the person getting others back on their feet.
“It was definitely a grueling route,” Stephanie, 24, said. “It was worth every second. There were times, though, I thought I wouldn’t make.” The trials were worth it; she has a job offer awaiting her in Easton.
Sharese Smith of Elizabeth City, N.C. came to UMES on the recommendation of a previous student she knew back home.
“I wanted to be a physical therapist ever since I knew (back in high school) it was what I wanted to do”, said Sharese, 27. “I’m very thankful, and happy to be moving on to the next chapter of my life.”
Lindsay Duryea of Pocomoke City gravitated to UMES’ physical therapy program after gaining experience as an assistant working in a Lower Shore nursing home.
“I have friends in the field who inspired me,” said Lindsay, 32. “I enjoy working with people.”
She described her emotions after the ceremony as “ecstatic, overwhelmed and relieved that it is over.”
UMES President Juliette B. Bell served as the keynote speaker during the university’s traditional fall convocation ceremony that doubles as the commencement for the physical therapy program.
She challenged the Class of 2013 to be creative, energetic and committed to their chosen field “every day. That’s job security.”
Bell also awarded Dr. Leon Copeland the title “Faculty Emeritus” in recognition of his 35 years teaching in the university’s technology department. He retired a year ago.
UMES’ fall convocation is held annually in conjunction with Founders’ Week.
Bill Robinson, director, public relations, (410) 621-2355