LECOM graduates more than 500 medical & pharmacy students
Campuses in Erie and Florida to confer degrees on future physicians, pharmacists and educators

Enlisted members of the Class of 2010 hold commissioning ceremony prior to commencement. Click here for the story.

For more photos of the LECOM Erie commencement ceremony, click here.

For more photos of the LECOM Bradenton commencement ceremony, click here.

LECOM College of Medicine and School of Pharmacy Class of 2010.
LECOM Bradenton College of Medicine Class of 2010

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine stands proudly united in congratulating its Class of 2010, with more than 500 students receiving degrees from the school’s campuses in Erie, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla. The College, which boasts the largest student population of any medical school in the U.S., concludes a successful year of expansion, achievements and milestones in its continued mission to improve the quality of health care to meet the medical demands of the 21st century.

In commencement exercises in Erie on May 30, 2010, LECOM conferred degrees on 214 doctors of osteopathic medicine and 123 doctors of pharmacy. Additionally, the College will award 20 Master of Science in Medical Education degrees and, for the first time, a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. The commencement ceremony took place at the Louis J. Tullio Arena in downtown Erie. In Bradenton, LECOM hosted a graduation ceremony for its third class of D.O.s, conferring degrees on 149 deserving medical students on June 6.

While the campuses stand miles apart on the map, together they stand united in delivering programs of excellence in education, research, clinical care and community service, and through the examples set by its graduates, the College continues to build a strong reputations as one of the leaders of medical education.

Each of the College’s graduates has a unique story to tell, and none are more unique than the story of M. Ivan Rusilko, a native of nearby Meadville, Pa., who has made a name for himself not only as a student of osteopathic medicine, but also as a first-class bodybuilder who earned the title of Mr. USA in 2008. Having competed in myriad contests, including a recent attempt to earn the title Mr. World 2010, Mr. Rusilko has set himself apart not only to perfect his body, but to advance and champion his personal mission to make a difference in his community.

Throughout his world travels, Rusilko has come to recognize that being an American is a magnificent gift and he takes great care and responsibility to nurture his place in his community and to firmly establish himself as a source of betterment to it. LECOM takes immense satisfaction in sending this medical scholar, athlete, and distinguished citizen into the world of health care, with the utmost confidence that there is plenty of muscle behind his mission.

As a point of fact, Mr. Rusilko is not the only LECOM graduate with a successful side career in the world of competitive modeling. Andrea Apple, a graduate of LECOM Bradenton, has flourished both in the classroom as a medical student and on stage as a beauty pageant contestant. The 23-year-old from St. Petersburg has balanced the rigors of medical school, along with meeting her obligations as a two-time winner of Dade City’s Miss Kumquat Festival. Her victories in local competitions qualified her for the 2007 and 2009 Miss Florida pageants.

“As Miss Dade City’s Kumquat festival queen, I was able to serve my community, bring recognition to the doctor of osteopathic medicine profession, and to the Miss Florida organization,” she said. “I want to base my career in quality care and compassion for the patients I will serve. The clinical part of my education – working with patients and being involved in their care – has been incredibly rewarding.”

Ms. Apple’s great uncle, also an osteopathic physician, helped steer her toward the profession, and she hasn’t looked back. As she completes her career at the College, she reflects on her time and on the foundation for her success as a future physician. “The education I received at LECOM will be the springboard for a patient-centered career,” she said.

The LECOM School of Pharmacy is well represented at this year’s commencement ceremony, as the College’s sixth class of pharmacists prepares to give back to the communities they served during their time as students. Jaime Caputo, an Erie native who will move on to the world of community retail pharmacy this summer, champions the belief that “dedication is not what others expect of you, it is that which you bring to others.” A self-described “people lover,” Ms. Caputo is enthusiastic about her work as a pharmacist. She and her family came to Erie when she was just 10 years old. Hailing from a family of medical professionals (her mother and sister are nurses and her father is a pharmacist in the same Erie pharmacy chain where his daughter takes her full-time position in May) Dr. Caputo advances the family tradition. Finding inspiration in her father’s return to school to attain his pharmacy degree, Dr. Caputo decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and to echo the pharmacy career choice.

These ceremonies not only acknowledge the important choice so many students have made to give back to their communities, but also those who have guided the efforts of both the College and its administrators throughout the students’ careers. In Erie, the College will acknowledge the contributions of LECOM Board of Trustees member John Johnston, D.O., and educator Shaun Herness, Ph.D., with special Presidential Awards. In Bradenton, LECOM Board of Trustees member Joan L. Moore, D.O., received a special Presidential Award.

Homer once wrote, “Always to be best, and to be distinguished above the rest.” In the case of the LECOM Class of 2010, their ability to be the best will distinguish them as they move forward to become leaders in the health care profession for many years to come.

May 28, 2010
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