A group of DPT 2016 students pose in new white coats with educator Carol Recker-Hughes, PT, ’79, PhD, (center), including Joshua Hibbert (3rd from right) and his parents.

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes New Students

Upstate’s College of Health Professions welcomed 161 new studentsto its academic programs that are at, or near, full capacity, during the annual White Coat Ceremony, held August 28. Each new student was welcomed by Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, President David R. Smith, MD, and faculty,with the presentation of a new white coat, a gift through the Health Professions Alumni Association. Donning the white coat signifies that health professionals not only treat, but also care for their patients, according to Dr. Bonner, who donned his own tie-dyed lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care. Continuing its tradition, the Franciscan Management Services sponsored a reception for the students and their guests following the ceremony. Respiratory therapy alumnus, Joseph Nicoletti, ‘76, represented FMS as an invited speaker, andCHP Alumni Association President, Josephine Przepiora, MS, MT(ASCP)SM ’10, an MT instructor, also remarked: “You all now have your own white coat, an outward symbol representing the knowledge you will acquire, the skills you will hone and the compassion I suspect each of you already has, otherwise you would not have chosen to enter such noble professions.”

Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, donned his own multi-colored lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care during the fall White Coat Ceremony.

With Distinction blog features Upstate students

Upstate Medical University students do great things on campus, down the street and around the world. They raise money for a fellow student whose home burned down, volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, give up their winter break to help at clinics and orphanages in Haiti.  Our students are a wonderful blend of talents, ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.  Where can you find out more about them?  Check out our With Distinction blog at


Joe Micca (55) during his days as an offensive lineman for John Carroll University, before coming to Upstate as a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

DPT student shifts from the football field to the sidelines

Upstate Physical Therapy student Joe Micca loves participating in sports, but he’s excited by the prospect of a future on the sidelines — as a physical therapist treating athletes so they can get back onto the field.

“I was an exercise science major as an undergrad,” Joe said. “I have a big passion for sports and I like to help people out.”

Joe played college football for four years at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, after playing lacrosse and other sports growing up in Rochester. He’s had his share of visits to physical therapists.

He’s torn his medial collateral ligament three times (one knee twice), separated his shoulder and had at least one concussion. Those injuries, as painful as they were, serve as valuable reminders as Joe progresses toward his DPT degree next spring.

“I respect athletic training staffs now more than I did back when I played,” he said. “I’ve given every line in the book to stay on the field. You have to know the symptoms. You can’t let your competitive spirit get in the way of a player’s safety.”

Joe will soon return to Cleveland for his next clinical rotation, 10 weeks at the Cleveland Clinic’s sports health center. He’ll follow that with 10 weeks in an acute-care setting at Albany Medical Center.

As he closes in on his DPT degree, Joe is considering pursuing an additional year or more of post-graduate education leading to credentials as an athletic trainer and sports certified specialist.

Earlier this fall, Joe received the New York Physical Therapy Association student participation award for his efforts on behalf of the profession. He was nominated by Upstate’s DPT faculty.

“I’ve gotten to see the business and political side,” Joe said.

He’s passed along what he learned to his fellow students, and enlisted dozens of them to accompany him on a lobbying mission to Albany to push for better health insurance co-pays for physical therapy.

His advice to students pursuing a career in health care is to choose a field you’re willing to dedicate your life to. And once you make that decision, take advantage of every opportunity to make it happen.

As a student at an academic medical center in a city with many sports teams and medical facilities, Joe has had many learning opportunities. On the day of his With Distinction interview, he was in an operating room – not as a patient, but as a future physical therapist — observing a surgical reconstruction of an anterior cruciate ligament in an athlete who had injured her knee.

“Observing procedures in the operating room and analyzing the anatomy can give physical therapists a better understanding of rehabilitation considerations and what to expect during the different recovery stages,” Joe said.

Posted on With Distinction by Jim McKeever  


Floor plans are unveiled for Upstate’s newest address, Geneva Tower

Geneva Tower will be the new address to have if you’re a student or medical resident at Upstate Medical University this fall.  Formerly known as Townsend Tower, the downtown Syracuse high-rise is getting a complete makeover and will be ready for occupancy in the beginning of August.

The new residence hall for Upstate will boast 139 spacious apartments, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and four-bedroom units, and amenities of every kind: wireless internet access, air conditioning, laundry facilities, fitness room, free cable television and utilities, and dishwasher.  The building will also feature several conference rooms for group study.

The one- and two-bedroom units have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

“From the moment this project started, we involved the students by holding focus groups to see what kind of room configurations they preferred and to get their suggestions for furnishings and colors,” said Lindsay Lebowitz, Upstate’s residence director.  “Each unit is decorated with soft muted colors providing students with every opportunity to decorate each unit to represent their own personality.”

Lebowitz said the interest in the new complex among students is very high.  “We’re beginning to book rooms now for students for next fall, and I’m certain interest will only grow once the building nears completion,” she said.

The mild winter has allowed work to continue at a fast pace on the Harrison Street complex.

Lebowitz said students who reserve rooms through Feb. 15 will get six months of free on-site parking.  The parking lot, located on the Adams Street side of the building, will be fenced with access only to residents.

“In real estate, the buzz word is location, location,” said Lebowitz.  “This is a perfect address for students and medical residents.  Everything is just a short walk from your doorstep.”

For more information on Geneva Tower, call Lebowitz at 464-5106, or email Geneva@upstate.edu.

Caption: A floor plan of a 2-bedroom unit offered at Geneva Tower. The one- and two-bedroom units at Geneva Towers have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

(Story from Upstate OnLine - 2/10/12)

Radiation Therapy student Renee Gardner might also be your Zumba instructor

Renee Gardner, a radiation therapy student in the College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University, takes on the role of instructor twice a week at Upstate’s Campus Activities Building. Gardner teaches Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance fitness program, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for an hour.

“I started taking Zumba almost three years ago. It was very addicting!” Gardner said. After about six months of classes, Renee went through the training to become a certified instructor and then started teaching.

She’ll also hold a Zumba session at the Relay for Life in the Carrier Dome April 14, as part of Upstate’s Colleges Against Cancer team.

“That’s another event I really like pushing and getting involved in,” she said. “Last year I had about 200 people doing Zumba at the Relay”

Gardner was a dancer and a gymnast, and coached a club competitive team and the varsity at her alma mater in Central Square.  She also landed a part in a Wyclef Jean “Historia” video that has yet to hit the air.

Filming was last fall in Newark, N.J., and involved closing off a street while 50 or 60 people got in a serious Zumba workout. “I’m 4-foot-11 so I’m in the front row,” Gardner said.

Renee said she chose to pursue radiation therapy because “as with most of us in the program, cancer has had an effect on our lives.”

Working with the same patients every day appealed to her as well. “It gives you an opportunity to build relationships and maybe even have an impact on their lives,” she said. “Some of them don’t have family, so when they come in for their treatments, it’s something they can look forward to.”

View avideo of one of Gardner’s Zumba classes and visit Upstate’s blog, With Distinction,  for more news about Upstate’s outstanding students and faculty.

Caption: Upstate’s Renee Gardner, left,  wears many hats—radiation therapy student, Zumba instructor and gymnast.
(Published in Upstate Online - 2/10/12)

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