Incoming Heritage College student wins inaugural Early Assurance Program award

May 30, 2018

Executive Dean Ken Johnson bestows the EAP Student of the Year award on Sydney Pence.

A Centerville, Ohio, woman who gained early acceptance to the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine right out of high school is the first winner of a new award through the college’s Early Assurance Program.

When Sydney Pence visited Ohio University some five years ago as a high schooler, she asked if the university offered a program through which she could secure early acceptance to its medical school. Such an option didn’t exist at that time, but when the Heritage College launched its Early Assurance Program with OHIO not long afterwards, Pence applied to it and was accepted after graduating in 2014 from Centerville High School.

Since 2013, the Heritage College has signed EAP partnerships with five universities across the state: Ohio University, Baldwin-Wallace, John Carroll, Ohio Dominican and Otterbein. Through these partnerships, selected students from Ohio can earn both undergraduate and D.O. degrees in as little as seven years, if they meet criteria for coursework and academic performance.

Just prior to her graduation from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College earlier this month, Pence was honored with the Heritage College’s first-ever Early Assurance Program Student of the Year Award. The award, named for the late OhioHealth physician Francis V. Dono, D.O., recognizes an EAP participant who exemplifies service, passion for the osteopathic medical profession, professionalism, leadership and active engagement in the program.

At a small award ceremony attended by her family and Heritage College officials, Pence said she was grateful that the college created its EAP agreement with Ohio University in time for her to take advantage of it. “I’m really excited to attend the Heritage College in just one year,” she added.

After her graduation from OHIO, Pence was scheduled to travel to Zurich to pursue medical-related research on a 2018 Fulbright Scholarship. In the summer of 2019, she’ll join the incoming class at the Heritage College.

At the award conferral, Heritage College Executive Dean and OHIO Chief Medical Affairs Officer Ken Johnson, D.O., told Pence that the EAP helps the college attract “absolutely truly amazing students” like herself, whom it can train to be compassionate physicians “that all of us would want to go to.” He said the college’s support of the EAP and other pipeline programs designed to recruit promising future D.O.s is one of the things he’s most proud of.

John Schriner, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions and student affairs, recalled Dr. Dono – who played a key role in helping to set up the college’s EAP with Ohio Dominican – as a “mentor’s mentor” who would have been gratified to help a stellar prospect like Pence succeed in the osteopathic medical profession.

“Dr. Dono was really a very caring, compassionate person,” Schriner said. “He wanted to bring the next generation up.” 

Johnson and Schriner both stressed that the college is committed to making its EAP, in Schriner’s words, “very much a living, breathing program,” which is strongly engaged with, and of ongoing benefit to, the students who take part in it. “Is it more work for us (to do that)? Yes,” he said. “Is it gratifying work? Oh, yeah – look at us here today.”