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The University of Dubuque to Hold Commencement Ceremonies

By University Relations Staff

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque will hold a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Commencement Ceremony and a Winter Commencement Ceremony this month.

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Commencement Ceremony will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, December 8, 2023, in John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center. Twenty-three graduates are eligible to participate.

Darian Curry (MSPAS'22), MSPAS, PA-C, will deliver the commencement address, titled "Endless Possibilities Await."

Curry grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, and received her bachelor of science in biology from the University of Iowa. Prior to PA school, she worked as a nursing assistant on a medical oncology inpatient unit and as a direct support professional for individuals with disabilities. While in the MSPAS program at UD, Curry acted as the program's student representative for the American Academy of PAs and attended legislative days at the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, where she advocated for the PA profession. She is currently serving in the National Health Service Corps as a PA in adult and child medicine at a federally qualified health center in Rockford, Illinois. Curry is passionate about increasing access to care, decreasing healthcare disparities, and improving health literacy.

In her time outside of clinic, Curry enjoys numerous creative endeavors, volunteering for environmental and human rights organizations, and spending time with her very close extended family.

The University of Dubuque Winter Commencement Ceremony will be held at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, December 14, 2023, in John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center. Doors will open at 2:00 p.m. Eleven graduate students and 74 undergraduate students are eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Annalee Ward, PhD, director of the Wendt Character Initiative at UD, will deliver the commencement address, titled "Lyrics for Life."

The Wendt Character Initiative is a campus-wide effort to promote excellent moral character and lives of purpose. Ward brings a passion for students and a love of learning to the work of guiding the various programs of the initiative, such as the Wendt Scholars program, character education in the general education program, and the online journal, Character and ..., through which UD faculty members address issues of the day using the lens of character. Her work has positioned UD as one of a handful of universities in the United States that intentionally prioritize the development of excellent moral character among their students.

A native of Denver, Colorado, Ward holds the doctor of philosophy in communication from Regent University, a master's degree in communication from Colorado State University, and a bachelor's degree in speech and theatre from Calvin University. She spent many years as a professor of communication, publishing and presenting widely at the intersection of faith, ethics, rhetoric, and popular culture. Ward received the Younger Scholar Award from the Pew Charitable Trust and served as president of the Religious Communication Association. Her book, Mouse Morality: A Rhetorical Analysis of Disney Animated Film, was awarded the Ethics Research Award by the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research.

Ward is married to Mark Ward, PhD, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at UD. They have two married children and five grandchildren.

For more information about the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Commencement Ceremony and the University of Dubuque Winter Commencement, visit