One hundred eighty-three participating graduates sat draped in their green and black regalia, their tassels swinging back and forth from their caps in front of an audience of about 2,500.
Each of the soon-to-be graduates waited in anticipation of the moment they would walk across stage to receive their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) during the 39th annual commencement ceremony on May 28.
American Osteopathic Association (AOA) President John Becher, D.O., delivered the keynote speech to the Class of 2016 at WVSOM’s campus in Lewisburg. Becher shared advice about the responsibility of becoming physicians to the students before they took the osteopathic oath. The message Becher conveyed referenced the privilege to serve others.
“Class of 2016, today is the culmination of your hard work, tenacity and commitment to become an osteopathic physician so you can improve the health and well-being of those you have the privilege to serve,” he told the graduates. “As the next generation of osteopathic physicians, there is an opportunity for you to influence your colleagues and institutions, not only to provide quality care to the sick, but to refocus efforts on prevention and wellness, and promoting the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of our patients and communities. By working together, side-by-side, with open ears and minds, we can build the trust and teamwork necessary to product true breakthrough innovation and change.”
Class of 2016 President Teresa Bigley offered similar words of encouragement during the Class Address.
“Any physician can ease physical suffering. I would challenge you to be one of the truly great doctors who work to treat more than just the physical,” she told her classmates. “Kindness costs you nothing, yet has the potential to thrive in numerous ways … The diploma you’re receiving today may open many doors for you, but it does not now, nor will it ever, truly define who you are. That job will always be yours. I hope each of you find happiness and come to understand that we are blessed to serve.”
WVSOM’s graduation ceremony is the culmination of students’ four years of hard work and dedication in the classroom and in clinical settings. As the graduates sat together one last time, Becher left them with a quote by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer: “‘The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.’ My best wishes as you embark on a lifetime of service and leadership as osteopathic physicians.”
Michael Adelman, D.O., D.P.M., J.D., president and Craig Boisvert, D.O., FACOFP, vice president for academic affairs and dean, led the ceremony and awarded the degrees. The WVSOM Board of Governors Chair David Rader; WVSOM Alumni Association President Mark Waddell, D.O.; and the President of the West Virginia Osteopathic Medicine Association C. Clark Milton, D.O.; provided messages to guests.
The ceremony concluded with the graduates reciting the osteopathic oath, which officially acknowledges their transition from student to physician.