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2023 Commencement

Congratulations Class of 2023! On July 29th we were proud to celebrate the accomplishments of 73 graduates with their friends and families at The Hawk Community Center in Farmington Hills. Nine students received their MA with a concentration in ABA, 46 students received their MA degree in clinical psychology, and 18 students received their PsyD degree in clinical psychology.

This year’s commencement ceremony included special recognitions of Dr. Sook Wilkinson, Diane Zalapi, and Dr. Lee Bach for their contributions to MSP. Dr. Wilkinson is retiring from the Board of Trustees after five years of service. Diane Zalapi is leaving her position as Vice President to pursue new opportunities after 16 years. Finally, Dr. Lee Bach is retiring from the faculty after 25 years of providing our students with quality instruction. Dr. Bach was awarded the status of Faculty Emerita by her colleagues. You can read more about honorees here.

The graduating students’ academic achievements, hours of clinical work, and overall accomplishments were recognized by Glen Fayolle, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Brian Spitsbergen, President of MSP, in their commencement addresses. “Graduates, please remember that there is so much more to come. My guess is that if your journey is anything like mine, you will be amazed where the road takes you from here,” said President Spitsbergen. It was noted that during the past academic year, MSP students provided nearly 77,000 hours service to those who otherwise may not have access to quality mental health care.

Each year at the commencement ceremony, graduates participate in a ritual that asks them to reflect on their time as a student and to consider their future contributions to society. During the MA and ABA ritual, graduates select a stone that symbolizes their movement through their educational experience and make a statement that represents the personal meaning of the journey. This year’s students shared that they stand for “authenticity,” “community,” “seeing the unseen and hearing the unheard,” and more.  These statements were reflective of the unique interests and personality of each graduate and allowed them the opportunity to help shape their ceremony.

During the PsyD ritual, graduates made a pledge where they shared how they would use their education in their new role. This incredibly special moment is the first time that PsyD students are able to refer to themselves as Doctor while also allowing them a moment to tell guests about their experiences and hopes for the future. Students shared how they plan to use their degrees to uplift underrepresented populations, provide care, and give back to their communities.

The Marjorie Scott Scholarship for Excellence is presented at commencement each year to graduating students from the MA and PsyD programs who have best achieved excellence in academic performance, clinical work, and research in their respective programs. The award is presented to the recipients by the faculty member who recommended them. Dr. Ryan Blackstock presented the award to MA student Jayden Baehr, and Dr. Kate Cusick presented it to PsyD student Jared Boot-Haury. You can read more about Jared and Jayden’s accomplishments here.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of candidates by Dr. Mike Tyler, Dean of Academic Programs, followed by the conferring of degrees where students received their degrees from Board Chair Fayolle and President Spitsbergen. PsyD students were also hooded by their dissertation chairs.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these graduates. Congratulations Class of 2023!