School of Health Professions grads urged to focus on passion, preparedness and people

School of Health Professions grads urged to focus on passion, preparedness and people


The advice was straightforward to the Class of 2017 in the Rowan University School of Health Professions, solid suggestions not just for their future careers but also for life in general.

Commencement speaker Dr. Adrienne Kirby, president and CEO of Cooper University Health Care, told the graduates they need to focus on passion, preparedness and people.

“Be passionate about your work. Be prepared. And value other people,” said the head of the 7,000-strong premier health care system based in Camden. “A passion for one’s work makes life happier overall. . . (Preparedness and hard work are) critical to your success. . . True success in life comes from the relationships you build. . . Serve others. Learn from others. Invest in others.”

Kirby, to whom the School presented a Medal of Excellence for Distinguished Service to the health care industry, joined a slightly chilled crowd celebrating with gusto – cheers, applause and signs ­– on an overcast Friday, May 12, in one of nine ceremonies spread across four days.

The South Jersey native – born in the same hospital she now heads – joined others in addressing the new graduates.

The School’s dean, Dr. Karen Magee-Sauer, reflected on how the $100-million gift in 1992 from industrialist Henry Rowan prompted the explosive transformation at the University and in Glassboro. “. . . (T)he excellence of your Rowan degree is directly tied to that ‘little hundred million.’”

Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan University, highlighted the University’s growth and the Class of 2017’s achievements, telling the graduates, “You are the biggest accomplishment of every board member, administrator, professor and staff member here today. . . These days – commencement – are the best days of our professional careers.”

Bobby Barbieri, a Health & Exercise Science graduate from Hammonton, has his own career in mind. The former Rowan football player is heading to Hammonton High School as a teacher’s aide and football, basketball and baseball coach. The 23-year-old said he felt relief after graduation. “All the hard work paid off. I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to impact others, help others, just like people have helped me.”