June 4, 2007
Following is an excerpt of President Roderick McDavis' comments from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine commencement ceremony on June, 2, 2007
It is a tradition at this point in the ceremony to recognize a few individuals whose special paths to their degrees make them worthy of particular acclaim.
It is common at family reunions to recognize certain individuals: the oldest attendee, the youngest attendee, the person who has traveled the farthest. If we were to adopt that practice this morning, we might choose to recognize the graduate who has the most guests in the audience. And our first honoree would certainly be in contention!
Kerwyn Flowers, would you please stand and remain standing?
At 12, she taught Sunday school. Today, she graduates as a doctor of osteopathic medicine. And her faith and interest in healing have guided her through her journey.
Kerwyn's mother, Sharon Smiley Gainous, is the pastor of New Israel Church of Jesus Christ in Quincy, Fla., and Kerwyn, from the time she was very young, observed her mother as minister and educator to her congregation. She credits her mother with providing the foundation for her success in medical school:
"My mother always said I could be whatever I wanted to be. From the beginning, she believed in me and supported me."
Kerwyn earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Florida A&M University and worked as a chemist for Glaxo-Smith-Kline and Lannett Pharmaceuticals. When she determined that she wanted to become a physician, she knew that her background in biological sciences was insufficient, and that's when a friend introduced her to the principles of osteopathic medicine.
When she learned about the OU-COM Summer Scholars program -- a rigorous six-week medical school preparatory program for underrepresented minority students -- she thought it a perfect solution and enrolled. After excelling in that program, she went on to the OU-COM post-baccalaureate program, a similar prep program that lasts one academic year.
During both programs, Kerwyn called on her Sunday school-teaching background to serve as a tutor and mentor to fellow students. She also was a mentor to first-year students through an effort called "COMrade" and was named OU-COMrade of the Year in 2005.
As she graduates this morning and prepares to begin a residency in family medicine at Akron City Hospital, Kerwyn has a clear goal for her future -- to embrace her privilege to facilitate healing.
As I mentioned, Kerwyn has an impressive "fan base" at this morning's ceremony. Her mother is here, along with more than two dozen members of Kerwyn's childhood congregation. Will you please stand to be recognized, too?
Our next honoree already has made more house calls than any modern physician has or ever will.
Eric Greenfield, will you please stand?
Before enrolling at OU-COM, Eric had a nine-year career as a paramedic, and that was an experience that shaped his professional aspirations.
Eric's route to OU-COM was a bit roundabout. He first earned a nursing degree at Regents College, then went on to complete a bachelor's degree in health sciences at Excelsior College. Although he enjoyed his work as a nurse, he was excited by the opportunity to become a part-time paramedic instructor at the University of Alabama, and later accepted the challenge of helping establish an emergency medical services degree program at Calhoun College.
Eventually, though, Eric realized he had exhausted his professional potential as a nurse and paramedic instructor. He knew that medical school was the next logical step and decided that he would pursue an osteopathic education.
He enrolled at OU-COM, and was especially enthralled by the patient-centered continuum program, a student-directed curriculum where small groups of medical students are presented with patient cases and encouraged to develop their own learning objectives.
Although Eric hadn't intended to become an emergency medicine physician, as he made his way through OU-COM, he had a realization -- that was the very reason why he had entered medical school. He'll begin an emergency medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia after commencement.
Our final honoree has turned a personal mission into a professional passion.
Linda Ross, will you please stand?
Linda, who holds a Ph.D., first came to Ohio University as a faculty member and taught students at OU-COM. She had an impressive reputation as a teacher and researcher, and by all reports, was revered by her students. Though she loved her work, her association with the medical students made her think about a different direction for her life and career.
Ultimately, she decided that pursuing a medical degree was an appealing option. She even reasoned that once she got into a medical practice, she would only be on call certain nights and might actually end up with more free time to spend with her family.
Linda will specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, and she has a particular -- and personal -- interest in fertility treatments.
While she and her husband, John Zook, a professor of biological sciences at Ohio University, conceived their first son, Lander, within a month, it took two years and in-vitro fertilization to conceive their second son, Aiden.
Because of that experience, Linda is determined to devote her energies to ensuring that any couple -- regardless of income or insurance -- can have access to such treatments.
She will begin a residency at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens after commencement and is committed to remaining in the area. Despite interviews and even job offers in larger, metropolitan areas where it would be easier for her to pursue her fertility research interests, Linda will remain in Athens because, she says, her heart is here.
She notes that she will have the advantage of having more one-on-one experiences with attending physicians in her first year of residency than she would in two or three years somewhere else.
In five years, she hopes to be in practice in Athens, delivering babies and doing fertility work.
We wish you the best in that endeavor!