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WVSOM celebrates 47th annual commencement

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The 2024 graduating class of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), on Friday – in the company of family, friends, peers, alumni, and faculty – took part in the school’s 47th commencement ceremony. 

“What a journey it has been,” WVSOM President James Nemitz told graduates to begin the ceremony. “Medical education is always a difficult, demanding path at any time. But certainly during this COVID-era, and this class beginning their medical journey at the height of COVID – incredible.”

“They started class virtually,” Nemitz continued. “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.”

Click image to see the commencement video.

Thousands of well-wishers gathered beneath the big white tent on the manicured campus grounds. A cool breeze kept the day’s heat at bay, and the warm sun highlighted the smiles, hugs, laughter, and celebration of graduates and their loved ones. 

“My grandmother recounted how she had to drop out of high school to shoulder the responsibility of driving her father to work each day so that he could put food on the table for her [family],” Class President Olivia Rombold shared in her address to fellow graduates. “Her story serves as a reminder of the countless individuals who have made sacrifices to pave the way for our successes. […] Their sacrifices laid the groundwork upon which our dreams have been realized.”

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

“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.”

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.”

In total, 190 members of WVSOM’s class of 2024 received their medical degree during the ceremony. As Nemitz stated in his opening address, the graduating class has achieved 100% residency-placement. Of the 190 newly-minted physicians, 35 – or 18.42% of the graduating class – will remain in the State of West Virginia to perform their residencies.

190 members of WVSOM’s class of 2024 received their medical degree during the ceremony.
American Osteopathic Association President Ira Monka, D.O., delivers the day’s keynote address.

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