After four years of studying, learning about various body systems, team-based learning group exercises and job shadowing physicians in clinics and hospitals throughout the country, 175 participating graduates anticipated the moment they would receive their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees.
The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) celebrated its 40th annual commencement ceremony on May 27 under a tent full of nearly 2,500 family, friends, faculty and, from now on – doctors.
Congressman Evan Jenkins delivered the keynote speech to the Class of 2017 at WVSOM’s campus in Lewisburg.
His speech to graduates emphasized the importance of commitment to one’s community. He told the graduates that they had “the ability to heal a community.”
“As you help heal people many of you will feel compelled to take a role in your community,” Jenkins said. “Take this role seriously and with the gravity it deserves. Public service doesn’t mean running for office – it means healing one’s neighbor.”
He told graduates that as physicians, these graduates will be seen as pillars in their community.
“We are in the heart of Appalachia and many of you are from Appalachia,” Jenkins said. “This is where the difference you can make will be particularly impactful. You have the ability to lift up a family and lift up a community. The need for rural physicians is great. So are the challenges … But it is my hope that some of you will return and stay right here. Our state has so much to offer you, and I know you have so much to offer our state.”
Class of 2017 President Miles Medina provided an emotional speech to his classmates during the Class Address.
“The road we’ve shared has been an incredible one, but it was never easy,” he said, reminiscing of each of the four years of medical school and how different they were. The Class of 2017 president also addressed the graduates’ involvement in the community – after a major West Virginia flood in 2016; a diesel fuel truck spill in a Greenbrier County river in 2015; the ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014; and lastly, “learning an entire musculoskeletal system in just four days” in 2013.
“When we look back on this day,” Medina said, holding back tears, “remember that the love and support we have shown for each other is the same compassion we will show to our patients. It’s what made us strong, resilient and relentless in our pursuits to become physicians … Class of 2017, congratulations. We did it.”
Many WVSOM medical students are drawn to the school because of the emphasis on graduating students who have a passion to serve. The graduation ceremony is the culmination of students’ four years of a passion to serve, hard work and dedication in the classroom and in clinical settings.
“Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,’” Jenkins said. “Each of you is here today because you have a calling to serve,” Jenkins said. “You have been trained to alleviate pain in whatever form it may come and wherever it may be found. You will give hope back to someone who has been suffering. What power it is to be able to change someone’s life forever.”
Michael Adelman, president, and Craig Boisvert, vice president for academic affairs and dean, led the ceremony and awarded the degrees. The WVSOM Board of Governors Chair Charles Davis, WVSOM Alumni Association President Mark Waddell, and the President of the West Virginia Osteopathic Medicine Association C. Clark Milton provided messages to guests.
The ceremony concluded with the graduates reciting the osteopathic oath, which officially acknowledges their transition from student to physician.