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The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) held commencement ceremonies on June 2, 2013 in Erie, Pa. for 471 members of the Class of 2013 who will become osteopathic physicians and pharmacists or receive the Master of Science degree.

Highlighting the event was the graduation for the inaugural class of 94 osteopathic medical students from LECOM’s campus at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa.

Pictured are the LECOM at Seton Hill Academic Leaders.  Front Row, L-R: Mallory Elizabeth Wauthier, Pamela Marie Brownlee, president of the LECOM at Seton Hill class of 2013.  Pictured back row, L-R: Shannon Nicole Sharpe, James Lozada, Meghan Leigh O’Brien.

“Beginning now, and into the future, LECOM at Seton Hill will contribute to LECOM’s mission by graduating well-trained physicians each year,” says Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill Irving Freeman, J.D., Ph.D. “I am extremely impressed by the accomplishments of the Class of 2013 and I look forward to following their careers with pride.”

LECOM at Seton Hill Class of 2013 President Pamela Brownlee led her fellow students as they received the Doctor of Osteopathic medicine degree.  She said her experience as a member of the inaugural class was both exciting and intimidating.

“It was intimidating because we had no upperclassmen to look to for advice,” said Brownlee, who matched into a general surgery residency at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Jacksonville. “Being in the inaugural class gave us a great opportunity to lay the groundwork for future classes. We had many memorable times on campus and I wouldn’t have traded my time at LECOM at Seton Hill for anything.”

LECOM also honored two individuals from Seton Hill University who helped make the college of medicine campus a reality. Through the support of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees chaired by former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge and the university administration led by President JoAnne W. Boyle, Ph.D., LECOM forged a partnership that resulted in the opening of LECOM at Seton Hill in 2009. LECOM conferred the Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees upon these two educational leaders and recognized these outstanding individuals along with the first graduates of the Greensburg campus.

Seton Hill President JoAnne W. Boyle, Ph.D. was unable to attend the ceremony.  Accepting the degree on her behalf was her son John Boyle and his wife Sheri.Honorary Degree Recipient Michele Ridge pictured with LECOM Chairman of the Board Michael Visnosky, Esq. (L) and LECOM President and CEO, John M. Ferretti, D.O. (R)

Two separate commencement ceremonies were held on Sunday, June, 2, at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. Joining the LECOM at Seton Hill graduates at the morning ceremony were 133 LECOM Erie School of Pharmacy graduates who earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree.  In the afternoon, 244 College of Osteopathic Medicine students received the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree and 31 Master of Science candidates received their degrees.

On Sunday, June 9 at 2 p.m., LECOM Bradenton will celebrate its sixth commencement ceremony at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto, Fla. One hundred and fifty-two College of Medicine graduates and 105 School of Pharmacy graduates will walk across the stage to receive their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, respectively.

LECOM graduates come from a variety of backgrounds with many overcoming the odds in fulfilling their dreams of becoming an osteopathic physician or pharmacist.

Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009, medical student Anthony Randich persevered to graduate with his class. As a first year medical student, Randich took up cycling as a hobby. A few months into his new hobby, Randich was riding on the side of a busy five-lane road when he started having a seizure. Randich was rushed to the hospital, where doctors discovered a 3.5 cm x 3 cm mass on his brain.

Randich went through brain surgery and one year of chemotherapy, all the while continuing with the rigors of medical school. After doctors gave the Rochester, N.Y., native a clean bill of health, Randich set out to raise awareness and money for the National Brain Tumor Society by participating in a 1,000-mile bike ride.

“Anthony epitomizes perseverance and dedication,” says LECOM Assistant Dean of Preclinical Education Mark Coty, Ph.D. “I know he will be the kind of osteopathic physician that LECOM will no doubt be proud of his accomplishments.”

LECOM will also present the President’s Distinguished Citizen Award to BayNews 9 anchor Al Ruechel.  With 26 years covering Tampa Bay area news, Ruechel still has time to volunteer as the LECOM Bradenton Student Scholarship Gala master of ceremony. Through his efforts, deserving medical, pharmacy and dental students receive thousands of dollars in scholarship support.  His son Chad Ruechel, D.O. was among the first graduates from LECOM Bradenton in 2008.