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Idaho State University

ISU-Meridian confers record number of degrees at May 12 commencement

May, 13, 2014

Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center graduated its largest class ever May 12, conferring 235 degrees and naming audiology graduate Sarah Weber the top Sarah WeberStudent Excellence honoree.

“Thank you to ISU and the Division of Health Sciences for offering an excellent clinical doctorate degree,” said Weber. “I feel well prepared to embark on this next chapter in my life and believe my patients will benefit from these experiences as much as I have.”

Weber, who grew up in Coeur d’Alene, began her college career studying elementary education, but switched to hearing and speech sciences after taking a class in sign language. She enrolled in ISU’s audiology program in 2010, traveled globally to assist underserved populations with hearing loss, and was named the ISU Division of Health Sciences 2014 Outstanding Student Clinician. In July, she’ll begin a job as a pediatric audiologist.

Weber was one of seven ISU-Meridian students nominated for the top award. Other finalists, their programs and hometowns are:

  • Karine Maynard, Speech Language Pathology, Boise
  • Kristin Moore, Public Health,  Joliet, Montana
  • Anthony Nelson, Pharmacy, Hazelton
  • Cory Nelson, Pharmacy, Troy, Idaho
  • Mujalin Cherry Thuntarug, Physician Assistant Studies, Seattle
  • Emilia Yañez, undergraduate Nursing, Idaho Falls

Joseph H. Williams, M.D., a surgeon and founding member of Idaho Urologic Institute, delivered the commencement address.

“What an incredible event. You’ve done it!” he told the graduating health professionals. After quipping that he hoped his speech ended up on You Tube—proof to friends and family that he’d been tapped to speak at a university commencement—he offered words of inspiration and wisdom.

He talked about the personal experience of treating patients, the honor of serving the community in such a vital way, and the challenges of providing affordable health care to those who need it.

Williams urged the new graduates to study the health care industry, seeking moral, political and ethical ideas to guide them.

Friends, family and classmates cheered as students walked across stage to receive their degrees. ISU President Arthur Vailas shook the hand of each graduate and at the conclusion of the ceremony honored family members for providing their support.

Also recognized at commencement were pharmacy graduate John Malamakal, who received an Alumni Association 2014 Outstanding Student Achievement Award, and ISU-Meridian Assistant Clinical Nursing Professor Kelly Pesnell, who was named ISU’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher.

Here’s the breakdown of graduate, professional and undergraduate degrees: two Doctor of Philosophy (Counselor Education and Counseling); four Doctor of Audiology; 33 Doctor of Pharmacy; 12 Master of Counseling; nine Master of Physical Education/Athletic Administration; 30 Master of Physician Assistant Studies; six Master of Public Health; 40 Master of Science (Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing and Speech Language Pathology); one Master of Training and Development; 73 Bachelor of Science (Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing, Communication Sciences and Disorders); seven Associate of Science (Sign Language Studies, Emergency Management and Fire Services Administration), and18 Associate of Arts (General Studies).

The ISU-Meridian Health Science Center offers more than 25 graduate, undergraduate and online programs. Visit