MLS Class of 2023 Celebrates with Pinning Ceremony

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

As Dr. C admitted, he is not a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs or of Taylor Swift, but he chose to reference them anyway on Thursday night.  

"Are we out of the woods yet?" the pop star sang on her 2014 hit. "Are we in the clear?"

Christopher Swartz, PhD., MLS (ASCP)CM and Assistant Professor in Medical Laboratory Science, is known as Dr. C to the students, and he assured them that they were, in fact, in the clear. 

Congratulations to the 28 students in the Medical Laboratory Science Class of 2023, who will be graduating Friday, but who also celebrated their Pinning Ceremony and Reception on Dec. 14. In front of friends, family and faculty in the Harris Ballroom of the Gatton Student Center, they were honored with pins and certificates. 

And, as Swartz said, they were officially out of the woods. 

Several other speakers also came out to honor the graduates, including Steve Schwarze, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM, program director for MLS; Michelle Perez-Egana, MLS (ASCP)CM, Clinical Lab Science Coordinator; 1983 alumna Mimi Perdue-Loan, the Change Management Director of Quest Diagnostics; and students Gabrielle Schaller and Sherae Absher.

"This is a great program that you all have completed," said Scott Lephart, PhD and Dean of the College of Health Sciences. "It is a noble occupation that is making a difference in the lives of those in the Commonwealth and those beyond the Commonwealth."

Lephart explained that the profession needs these graduates, because there are not enough workers to fill the open positions. And by 2030, he said, the profession will have grown by another 10 percent. 

"Tonight is about celebrating your accomplishments," Schwarze said.  

Schaller said it was an honor to watch the class grow over the last few years, while Absher, who took classes in the Hazard co-hort, noted how the faculty — as well as her peers — held each other up and helped everyone succeed. The first-generation, non-traditional student was initially nervous about not fitting in. 

"I never thought they saw me as different," she said.

Perdue-Loan gave the graduates a list of worthwhile life advice, including to:

  • Find where your passion lies.
  • Be like a sponge and be a good listener. 
  • Be curious, innovative and visible.
  • Network.
  • Show up everyday ready to learn and make a positive difference in patient care.
  • Volunteer for new experiences. 
  • Always think of how to prevent problems.
  • Be a change champion.
  • Be adaptable — especially to technology.
  • Be solution-oriented.
  • Be resilient.
  • Become a certified project manager. 
  • Seek out a mentor.
  • Thank your professors.

"You are the future leadership for this profession," she said at the end of her speech. "Congratulations on getting your degree. You are positioned for success. Learn to lead with empathy and purpose, and make your mark."

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