WVSOM celebrates 190 new osteopathic physicians during 47th annual commencement ceremony

By Matthew Young, RealWV

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – “Each of us carries within us a unique story – a unique journey that has led us to this moment. Today I want to honor and celebrate the richness of our collective experience.”

That’s what West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) class of 2024 President Olivia Rombold told her fellow graduates during Friday’s commencement ceremony, as part of her final address to the class. 

“It has been a privilege to walk this journey alongside such an incredible group of individuals,” Rombold added. “Though we may be separated by miles and years, we will forever be connected by the bond we share as members of this extraordinary class.”

Friday’s commencement marked the school’s 47th annual holding of the ceremony. With the big white tent set up on the perfectly-cut campus lawn, thousands of well-wishers gathered in the form of family, friends, peers, alumni, faculty, and community leaders to celebrate with the 190 newly-minted physicians. 

Delivering the day’s keynote address was American Osteopathic Association President Ira Monka, D.O. The American Osteopathic Association represents nearly 200,000 osteopathic students and physicians across the United States. 

“It is my great honor to address you, and celebrate our newest osteopathic physicians who have worked so hard to reach this day,” Monka said. “Today marks a profound moment in each of your lives, as the culmination of many years of hard work, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to the noble pursuit of healing.” 

“As we gather here to celebrate your remarkable achievements, it’s impossible to overlook the unprecedented challenges that have shaped your journey,” Monka continued. “The challenges of starting medical school during a global pandemic. When you embarked on this journey to become osteopathic physicians, none of us could have predicted the trials that lay ahead. […] In the face of adversity, you remained steadfast in your pursuit of medicine.”

“As you enter the medical profession, you will be entrusted with the lives and wellbeing of others,” Monka noted. “You will encounter moments of triumph, and moments of despair. You will witness the resilience of the human spirit, and the fragility of human life.”

“Never lose sight of the profound impact you make in the lives of others,” Monka added. “Whether you choose to practice in underserved communities, pursue groundbreaking research, or advocate health care reform, know that your contributions have the potential to touch countless lives, and inspire the future generation of healers.”

Also participating in the festivities was WVSOM President James Nemitz, who told graduates, “What a journey it has been!”

“Medical education is always a difficult, demanding path at any time,” Nemitz said. “But certainly during this COVID-era, and this class beginning their medical journey at the height of COVID – incredible. They started class virtually. It was amazing what they were able to do. Here you are, four years later, and you’ve made it. Congratulations.”

“You have truly distinguished yourselves as a class with your resilience, your strength, your giving attitude – not the least of which is your 100% residency-placement,” Nemitz added. “We are so very proud of each and every one of you.”

After receiving their diplomas, and led by WVSOM faculty member Chelsea Feger, D.O.,  graduates recited the “osteopathic oath,” the symbolic acknowledgment of their transition from student to physician. 

As Nemitz noted, the 190-member graduating class of 2024 achieved 100% residency-placement. Of those graduates, 35 – or 18.42% of the graduating class – will remain in the State of West Virginia to perform their residencies.

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