NYITCOM at A-State Celebrates Commencement & Hooding of 108 Physicians

Jonesboro, AR – New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University celebrated 108 new physicians Wednesday at its Commencement & Hooding Ceremony, which was held at the A-State Fowler Center.

The NYITCOM at A-State Class of 2022 arrived in Jonesboro in 2018 as the third class on the medical school’s Arkansas campus, and the group experienced medical school during a time like no other. Much of the group’s final two years of their undergraduate medical education came during a pandemic, one that impacted healthcare like no other event in recent history.

Joseph Giaimo, D.O., president of the American Osteopathic Association, served as one of the featured speakers Wednesday and spoke of how that changing world provides unique opportunities for physicians.

“You are entering our profession at a time where our world faces a lot of challenges,” Giaimo said. “But I have good news for you. Because of your hard work, because of how you are trained, you are perfectly positioned for the challenges that lie ahead. The core of osteopathic principle is what our nation truly needs. It is perfectly aligned with the mission of this college, training physicians based on evidence-based medicine, critical thinking and the tenants of osteopathic principles and practice. This distinctive approach to treating a patient is exactly what our country needs now.”

Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O., the founding dean of NYITCOM at A-State and a pioneer in osteopathic medicine, also spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony. She reminded the graduates of the significance and duty that comes with their new title of doctor.  

“Becoming a physician is not just a career choice,” Ross-Lee said. “It is a high calling with awesome responsibilities. It’s something more. From this day forward, it is an immutable part of who you are and who you will always be. It will be how you think of yourself and how others think of you, because being a physician not only describes what you do but who you will have become.”

As part of Wednesday’s ceremony, NYITCOM at A-State awarded a posthumous degree to Chloe Vaught, a beloved member of the Class of 2022 who tragically died during her third year of medical school. In an emotional moment, Amanda Deel, D.O., associate dean of academic affairs, shared memories of Vaught and led attendees in a moment of silence in her honor.

Vaught’s parents were presented with a framed diploma signifying her accomplishment.

“I’m sure that many of you, like Chloe, back in elementary school when asked what you wanted to be, you said you wanted to be a doctor,” said Chris Vaught, Chloe’s father. “When Chloe said it, she meant it. She knew what she wanted to do. She was going to stick to it, and stick to it she did. She was going to be a doctor. And she is.”

In addition to the 108 students who received their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree Wednesday, NYITCOM honored 13 students who completed the college’s Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree, a program that was created in 2020.

The ceremony also featured comments from Nicole Wadsworth, D.O., dean of NYITCOM; Shane Speights, D.O., dean of NYITCOM at A-State; and Amor Rivera, D.O., president of the NYITCOM at A-State Class of 2022. Members of the Class of 2022 will begin their medical residencies in July as they embark on the next phase of their medical education.

Featured Photo: Seth Jones, D.O., a member of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University Class of 2022, is hooded by his father, Matt Jones, M.D., at NYITCOM at A-State’s Commencement & Hooding Ceremony which was held Tuesday at the Fowler Center.

About NYITCOM at Arkansas State University: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, located on A-State’s Jonesboro campus, is dedicated to improving access to health care for the underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta Region. Arkansas annually ranks near the bottom among states in overall population health status due to low health indicators including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The state also ranks near the bottom of states in the number of active physicians per capita and in the number of primary care physicians. NYITCOM at A-State was established in 2016 with the mission of meeting the need for more physicians in this medically underserved area.

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