My donor taught me…

“The amazing complexity of the human body and how generosity can continue beyond death.”

Crean College’s
Department of Physical Therapy
students read cards aloud to honor the individuals that have selflessly given their bodies to further health science education. Some with moving statements, others marked with respectful humor regarding their training, all written with gratitude for advancing their physical therapy education.
Index Cards explaining what a Donor taught students

In a moving tribute, the first Donor Memorial Ceremony was held at the
Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
on April 2, 2015. Forming a new tradition: an Annual Donor Memorial Ceremony during
Donate Life Month
gathering students, faculty, and staff.

Donor Memorial Ceremonies are growing throughout the country as institutions and medical centers value the donors who educate, heal, and save lives. According to a
of gross anatomy program directors throughout the U.S., 95% of the responders held a form of a donor ceremony at their institution. The need for donors is on the rise as well.
The Economist
states that as University medical and health science programs grow, the number of cadavers needed has increased past the supply.

Student speaking at Donor Memorial Ceremony

Stephanie Arredondo-Glacet, Crean College Anatomy Lab Managing Technician

With this in mind,
Crean College
’s Anatomy Lab Manager, Stephanie Arredondo-Glacet inaugurated the event and invited a DPT student committee to aide her in planning. Stephanie states, “The ceremony is for the students who have learned from these donors to reflect on what human anatomy has meant to them as well as how these donations have impacted their lives. The students remember with gratitude the lives of those who have continued to give after death. They are the silent teachers who have become a part of each of our student’s professional training.”

Dean of Crean College,
Dr. Janeen Hill
provided opening remarks to the students and thanked them for their efforts in facilitating the event and participating. Stephanie Arredondo-Glacet read a poem: ‘To Remember Me’ by Robert Test, a piece included here.

“The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying…Don’t call this my death bed. Let this be called the bed of life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.”

Group of People at the Donor Memorial Ceremony

Crean College staff and faculty: Dr. Sara Gilliland, Stephanie Arredondo-Glacet, Dr. Alison McKenzie, Dr. Patricia Brown, Dean Hill, & Dr. Nicole Marquez

In a display of solidarity, Physical Therapy professor,
Dr. Alison McKenzie
signed her own body donation registration form during her statement to students. Assistant clinical professors,
Dr. Nicole Marquez
Dr. Sara Gilliland
, served as witnesses. Dr. McKenzie shared that recently two of her most influential professors and mentors donated their bodies to science after passing. In honor of those who influenced her training and career in Physical Therapy and Anatomy and in appreciation for the hundreds of donors she has worked with over the years, Dr. McKenzie was inspired to formalize her own commitment.

Beyond their skills in physical therapy, our students are also quite talented musicians as showcased at the ceremony. Several DPT students sang and played instruments in their musical dedication, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

Group of people at the Donor Memorial Ceremony

Music dedication performers: Kristen Petrillo, Nicole Laura, Spencer Dehnavi, Grafton Prewett, Kevin Duong, Amanda Centeno, Cindy Mack, & Harsh Joshi

The students followed their dedication and reading of the statements, “My donor taught me” by lighting 12 candles, each to represent a donor body being honored at the ceremony.

Donor Memorial Ceremony flyers and candles
We sincerely thank those that were honored on April 2 along with the students, faculty, and Stephanie who kindly gave of their time to make the event a successful and moving ceremony. Crean College’s hope is that future events continue on an annual basis and expand to further audiences. With the additional programs soon to be housed here, many students will be benefiting from the Anatomy Learning Center, named by The California Resources Corporation. In an effort to share the important benefits of donor programs and gather a larger group to honor them, the hope is to extend the invitation to additional students, parents, and the community as the tradition continues.

Thank you to our local community in Irvine for their kind donations to
Bagels donated by Starbucks
support the ceremony.
Bagels and Brew
, who generously provided bagels and cream cheese and
for their welcome donation of coffee. Support from our community is meaningful as it allows student events, such as this, to form and grow while also fueling research. If you are interested in making a donation to support the Donor Memorial Ceremony in the future please contact
Molly Fitzpatrick


My donor taught me… “How the human body is an extraordinary puzzle. The complexities and details of each structure gave me a new appreciation and respect for the human body. It has tremendously helped with my physical therapy education.”

Group of people attending the Donor Memorial Ceremony

DPT students gather after the ceremony