The University of Delaware’s Department of Physical Therapy honored the newest graduates from its top-ranked Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program earlier this month. The Class of 2019 is the 16th group of students to earn the degree.

The ceremony was a time of celebration for the 58 graduates, who reflected on their accomplishments in completing the rigorous program, which is ranked number 1 in the nation by US News & World Report.

“I think about this experience in the same way that I imagine a block of marble transitions into a sculpture,” class speaker Zachary Goldstein said. “The marble starts as raw potential and through force and trauma becomes a work of art with the ability to impact lives. We were that block of marble.”

“Every one of us has something unique and special to share with the profession and sitting here today, as a graduate from this institution in particular, you have the opportunity to share it in an impactful way,” he added.

It was also a time of remembrance for the students, who paid respect to their friend and fellow graduate Allie Zambito, a member of the class who was tragically killed this past summer.

In a ceremony the day before graduation, Allie was remembered by her teachers, classmates and family and posthumously awarded her degree. She was described as an exceptionally gifted student with a rare talent and passion for her work, as well as a loving friend, sister and daughter.

Her presence was felt during the graduation ceremony as well. A chair holding a white rose was left empty in the audience in her honor.

“Allie embodied everything I love and admire about the type of people that I met in this program,” remarked Goldstein. “While she was smart, hardworking and confident, she was also genuine, approachable and a lot of fun to be around.”

The class gift, presented by class president Amy Bednarek, consisted of a memorial plaque dedicated to Allie that will remain on campus, as well as a contribution to the scholarship Allie’s family has established in her name.

The members of the Class of 2019 are headed to work and make an impact all around the country, including areas such as Richmond, St. Louis, Idaho, Texas, New York City and Boston. Some will stay close by in Delaware as well, including Nao Ito, who will continue at UD, pursuing a PhD in graft site tendon morphology and rehabilitation strategies following ACL reconstruction. Corey Henley is pursuing his advanced training as a sports physical therapy resident in the Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic program.

“Your hard work and dedication to this process have finally paid off,” remarked department chair Darcy Reisman. “You are about to enter a great profession and I am very excited to welcome you as colleagues.”

The program takes two and a half years to complete and will begin accepting applications for its next class in July.

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