Health care champion set to speak at MUSC commencement

Commencement speaker, student stories highlight institutional vision, mission

CHARLESTON, S.C. (May 16, 2019) – The Medical University of South Carolina’s commencement exercises are scheduled for Saturday, May 18 at 9 a.m. in the MUSC Horseshoe. Approximately 634 candidates are expected to receive their degrees from MUSC’s six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy.

Some noteworthy candidate stories from this year’s graduating class include:

College of Dental Medicine – Cullen Harper

Former Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper has leveraged his leadership skills and work ethic to make the transition from football to dentistry. Harper graduates with a D.M.D. – Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry – and moves to Augusta, Georgia, to do a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Augusta University.

College of Graduate Studies – Ali Alawieh and Logan Dowdle: co-recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Graduate of the Year Award

Ali Alawieh graduates from the college’s Medical Scientist Training Program with an M.D.-Ph.D., and Logan Dowdle graduates with a Ph.D. Both have been involved in the neurosciences, specifically involved with neuroinflammation, stroke intervention and brain stimulation research. Alawieh begins a neurological surgery residency in the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University, and Dowdle will head to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research.

College of Health Professions – Roxanne Johnson and Michelle Brown-Nelson

These two overachieving sisters graduate with their Doctor of Health Administration degrees – the third degree they’ve earned together at the College of Health Professions – all while juggling demanding full-time jobs, busy families, public speaking engagements and church responsibilities. They’ve also co-authored a book.

College of Medicine – Melissa Koci

Melissa Koci’s fascination with medicine took her on a journey that involved discovering her true self and healing from within. She graduates with an M.D. – a Doctor of Medicine degree – and will be moving to Houston, Texas, to do a cardiothoracic surgery residency at Baylor College of Medicine.

College of Nursing – Tindall McRae

Tindall McRae has a healthy 3-year-old boy today because of a nurse who spoke up when McRae was pregnant. That nurse inspired McRae, a third-generation teacher, to change careers and pursue nursing. This week McRae joins 291 others graduating from the MUSC College of Nursing.

College of Pharmacy – Alexander Novgorodov

Pharmacy informatics whiz Alexander Novgorodov, described as “incredibly bright” by an associate dean in the College of Pharmacy, will graduate with a near-perfect grade point average and an upcoming residency at LifePoint Health in Nashville, Tennessee. Novgorodov, born in Moscow, is the son of two MUSC researchers.

This year's commencement speaker is Caroline DeLongchamps, manager of Patient- and Family-Centered Care for MUSC Health. DeLongchamps is a 1992 graduate of the College of Charleston, a wife and mother of three boys. Her youngest son, Sam, was a pediatric trauma patient in 2005, and during his time as a patient at MUSC, the family learned many lessons — both joyful and difficult.

She is recognized for her ability to bring people together through personal experiences and compassionate care. She facilitates partnerships between patients, families and the MUSC staff.  DeLongchamps has collaborated with the MUSC Office of Humanities, leading workshops, helping patients and family members share their experiences and integrating their experiences into professional education in effective ways. Thanks to her personal experience and heartfelt endeavors, she has transformed patient- and family-centered care at MUSC Health. DeLongchamps’ passion and leadership have helped health care providers collaborate with patients and families in the areas of policy and program development, implementation and evaluation, health care facility design and professional education.

DeLongchamps started volunteering at the hospital in 2006. As her passion and understanding of patient- and family-centered care grew, she sought out opportunities to bring this culture change to MUSC Health in 2010, the place where it all began for her and her family. She created and serves as the chairwoman of the Patient- and Family-Centered Care Steering Committee and leads recruiting and orienting efforts for patients and family members that serve on MUSC Health’s five patient and family advisory councils. She has been involved in the clinical design of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion and facilitated the involvement of many more families to participate in the design process. In 2014, she was named a Health Care Hero – Health Care Professional by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. She is a recipient of the South Carolina Hospital Association’s 2015 Lewis W. Blackman Patient Safety Champion Patient Advocate Award. At MUSC’s commencement, DeLongchamps will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.

In the event of inclement weather, the outdoor ceremony will move to McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel and begin at 11 a.m.


About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state’s only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2018, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $276.5 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2018, for the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.