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LECOM – Seton Hill Welcomes Medical Class of 2017

Matthew Strohmeyer, a member of the new class of osteopathic medicine students at LECOM’s campus at Seton Hill, personifies the College’s growth nationally.

Strohmeyer hails from Wasilla, Alaska, the same town where Sarah Palin served as mayor before she was elected Governor of Alaska. Strohmeyer does have a connection to northwestern Pennsylvania; his father, Richard Strohmeyer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, grew up in Erie.

Matthew Strohmeyer graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Like many LECOM students, he is active in community service, having participated in a mission trip in Africa.

While his father and brother became MDs, Strohmeyer chose to pursue osteopathic medicine. “In my experience, osteopathic medicine allows for closer connections with patients,” he said. “I appreciate the philosophy of treating the whole person, as opposed to only the symptoms.”

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Ashley Fritz, a captain in the United States Army, has served in Iraq and South Korea. She recently began classes as one of the new osteopathic medicine students at LECOM at Seton Hill.

Ashley Fritz is another of the more than 100 students who recently began classes at LECOM-Seton Hill, located in Greensburg, Pa. Fritz is a veteran, having enlisted with the U.S. Army at 17. As a sergeant in Iraq, she saw fellow soldiers killed and wounded. Her year of service in Iraq, though traumatic at times, also motivated her to become a physician. “I knew then I wanted to do everything I could to help people, and I thought the best way would be to pursue a career in medicine,” Fritz said.

Fritz chose LECOM in part because of its Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Pathway, a method of learning that uses patient cases to help medical students develop critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills. In addition, LECOM’s emphasis on training physicians for rural and underserved areas struck a chord with her.

“LECOM understands how important it is to address the need for care in those areas,” she said. “Serving smaller communities appealed to me personally, because I was raised in one.” Her hometown of Millville, Pa., has a population of less than 1,000.

While students such as Strohmeyer journeyed across the country to LECOM, another member of the class, Katelyn Geary, is from Derry, Pa., less than a half hour from Greensburg. As a student in LECOM’s “3+4,” Early Acceptance Program (EAP) with Seton Hill University (SHU), she completed her bachelor’s degree in biology in three years. The Early Acceptance Program offers students who meet all of its requirements a guaranteed seat at LECOM.

For Geary, the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Pathway is an ideal fit. She is excited to begin medical school. “I’ve liked science and wanted to be a doctor since I was little,” she said. “I’m very interested in osteopathic manipulative medicine and I believe in treating the whole person.”

Gino Sartori and Katelyn Geary, members of the Class of 2017 at LECOM at Seton Hill, are both from Westmoreland County.

Gino Sartori also earned a bachelor’s degree at SHU through an Early Acceptance Program, the “4+4” offering in biochemistry. Sartori gravitated to medicine in part because both his parents are cancer survivors. In particular, he saw first-hand his mother’s struggles with chemotherapy and radiation.

“Even though they told me not to worry about them, it was very difficult,” said Sartori, who may pursue radiology as a specialty. “Their experience made me realize just how much I wanted to help people. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly how I could make a difference. In a small way, maybe I can help them live longer and healthier lives.”

In August, LECOM-Seton Hill’s staff and faculty will greet the second-year medical students, who begin classes a week after their new classmates. The second-year students arrive on campus just two months after the graduation of the inaugural Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine class from LECOM-Seton Hill.

“It’s always very exciting to welcome both our new and returning students,” said Irv Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill. “We’re eager to help them grow and succeed and ultimately take their place alongside LECOM’s many other successful graduates.”