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The 2011 graduation ceremony is a family affair

Many graduates receive ceremonial hoods from parents,
other family members during OU-COM’s 32nd Commencement

(ATHENS, Ohio—June 4) Family played an important role during Commencement for the 108 new physicians who graduated from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine today.

More than 2,000 family members and friends of the OU-COM Class of 2011 gathered in Athens to watch the graduates receive their doctorates of osteopathic medicine, and many family members actually participated in the ceremony.


Leonard H. Calabrese, D.O., delivered the keynote address at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Commencement on June 4, 2011. Calabrese’s daughter, Cassandra Marie Calabrese, D.O., received her Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine during the ceremony.

It was a family affair for keynote speaker Leonard H. Calabrese, D.O., director of the R.J. Fasenmyer Center for Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases at the Cleveland Clinic and the head of their clinical immunology section. His daughter, Cassandra, was among the graduating class. The newest Dr. Calabrese, whose grandfather is also an osteopathic physician, received her ceremonial hood from her father -- and mentor.

“This is an exciting day for me and my family,” the senior Dr. Calabrese said at the beginning of his address. Instead of a traditional speech, Calabrese asked the new graduates and the audience to share in a “family discussion,” which included advice he had for Cassandra.

Given the “fast knowledge or rapid advances in medicine that students and practicing physicians are expected to keep pace with, Calabrese wanted to offer graduates what he called “slow knowledge,” or timeless wisdom that remains the same now as it may have 100 years ago. Calabrese recommended the new graduates follow three simple “do’s” and three simple “do not’s.”

The “do not’s” were greed, arrogance and intellectual laziness, and the “do’s” were to avoid complaining, to learn humility and to actively engage in reflection about life. “Without reflection, you are vulnerable to losing the joy of being a physician. It’s not about just being a doctor; to me it’s about the meaning of life,” he said.

Besides Cassandra Calabrese, D.O, at least 11 other graduates received their ceremonial hoods from physician mentors who were either parents or other family members..


Chad Keller, D.O., addresses his classmates during Commencement at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine on June 4, 2011. Keller asked father, Charles Keller, D.O., a family physician from Logan, to serve as his mentor.

“It was a privilege for me to be his mentor,” said Charles Keller, D.O., a family medicine physician from Logan who draped the ceremonial hood around the shoulders of his son, Chad Robert Keller, D.O. The senior Dr. Keller said he was proud and honored to be able to hood his son.

The younger Dr. Keller said there was no hesitation on his part about asking his father to serve as his mentor. “Well, for starters, he’s my dad, and we’re really close. As a physician, I really respect him a lot.” Chad Keller will enter the otorhinolaryngology/orofacial plastic surgery residency program at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital in Columbus.

The mentors, physicians who provide guidance and expertise to help the students advance their careers, are selected by the students. Of the 108 graduates in the Class of 2011, 61selected mentors, 21 of which are OU-COM alumni.

Kristen Michelle Astrom, D.O., received her diploma in the same building where her grandparents graduated from Ohio University in June of 1941— the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Dr. Astrom’s grandmother, Sarah Jane Kuchenrither, who earned degrees in home economics and French 70 years ago, watched her granddaughter via live web broadcast from her home in Belleville, Ill.

“We got her set up with a computer so she could be a part of today,” said Dr. Astrom, who begins a family medicine residency at St. Joseph Health Center in Warren this summer.

Astrom, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University in 2000, is the daughter of Francie Astrom, a nutrition counselor at WellWorks, Ohio University’s wellness program. “I wanted to go into osteopathic medicine, so I naturally had to come here,” Dr. Astrom said.

Of the 108 new osteopathic physicians who graduated on Saturday, 63 percent will continue their postdoctoral education in Ohio. Forty percent will enter residency programs in one of the 26 hospitals throughout Ohio that partner with OU-COM in the Centers for Osteopathic Research (CORE), which has been described as the “gold standard” for osteopathic postdoctoral training nationally, said OU-COM Dean Jack Brose, D.O.

Others will go onto postdoctoral training at such respected institutions as the Cleveland Clinic, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Akron Children’s Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center, the University of Kentucky Medical Center and Miami Children’s Hospital. Two OU-COM graduates will enter military medical residencies, one at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the second at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth in Maine.

“We take great pride in all of our graduates,” Brose said. “Each new OU-COM graduate physician and surgeon will take with her or him the respect, integrity, and compassion that is the heart of osteopathic medical training. Wherever they train, we will be forever proud that they are osteopathic physicians and that they represent the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Ohio University.”

Kevin B. Lake, D.O. ('92), a member of the Ohio University Board of Trustees, convened the ceremony. Other speakers included Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, Ph.D.; Albert M. Salomon, D.O., president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association; Jeffrey A. Stanley, D.O. ('82), president of the OU-COM Society of Alumni and Friends; and Tejal Ramesh Patel, D.O., president of the OU-COM Class of 2011. Patel will begin a family medicine residency this summer at OhioHealth’s Doctors Hospital in Columbus.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016