Commissioning the Next Generation of Leaders

Dr. Debra A. Schwinn, Palm Beach Atlantic University President

Springtime at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is one of my favorite times of the year. As we approach commencement, the campus buzzes with excitement for what’s to come. For many, it’s a quickly approaching summer break. For the 760 eligible graduates in the Class of 2024, it’s the next chapter as they embrace their full potential as new leaders in the workforce or advance their career plans through further studies. 


An investment in the future

Despite the busyness of the season, I take time to reflect on the past two semesters. Each academic year, our faculty, staff and campus leadership invest their hearts, minds, talents and energy into our student body preparing the servant leaders of the future.

We don’t take our job lightly. We embrace it with immense dedication and humility. Today, we have a unique opportunity to pour into tomorrow’s leaders — especially as we expand our campus to better meet the needs of our record-breaking student body and the growing, flourishing community of Palm Beach County. 

As we prepare to honor the Class of 2024, it’s remarkable to acknowledge that this cohort has already exhibited the quintessential traits we seek in the leaders of both today and tomorrow. These students, who have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic throughout their academic studies at PBA, have shown remarkable resilience and unwavering determination. Their journey, marked by unexpected turns and the need to adjust and adapt, has only emboldened their spirits and honed their ability to lead with compassion and empathy. Their trust in God has been a beacon, guiding them through challenges and reinforcing their faith.


Prepared for a complex job market

Each graduate is a living, breathing reflection of our Christ-centered institution. Our graduates represent 72 areas of study. Many will graduate from PBA’s legacy programs, such as business, public relations, biology and nursing. Others are inaugural graduates of our new, innovative undergraduate and graduate programs — including Christian community development, health science, digital storytelling, gaming and interactive media design and computer science. These graduates will soon enter a complex global job market, a socially turbulent world and uncharted waters as they navigate the purpose to which they have been called. These challenges aren’t just issues facing young North American professionals. We have earned the trust of many worldwide to prepare them for these challenges. Our graduating class spans four generations, ages 19 to 73, representing 40 countries across five continents. We are confident that regardless of age, nationality or background, our graduates at PBA are prepared to meet the challenges of the day. They join a rich network of alumni worldwide who embody and exude the Judeo-Christian values we teach and have excelled in taking their place in the world.

I am grateful that PBA plays an important role in cultivating well-rounded business, health care and civic leaders who can shine a light in an ever-changing world. This mission-fueled work is not always easy, but it is necessary, and there’s no other place I’d rather be. 


Ready to serve

As we approach graduation day on May 4, I am confident that our spring Class of 2024 will finish their final exams strong, walk across that stage with boldness and go out into this world ready to serve God and others boldly. And after the tassels turn, the beautiful cycle will repeat. Our focus will shift toward the fall as we eagerly anticipate a new cohort of students and continue our essential work of shaping the next generation. 

I am proud to be a Sailfish.


Dr. Debra A. Schwinn, a physician, researcher and innovator, is president of Palm Beach Atlantic University. (  

For more articles by Dr. Schwinn, visit

Share this article