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WesternU COMP-Northwest celebrates 10th Commencement ceremony

by Rodney Tanaka

June 3, 2024

Read 1 mins

A group of graduates in green and black academic regalia walk through a line of applauding onlookers at an outdoor commencement ceremony.
WesternU administrators, faculty and staff applaud COMP-Northwest Class of 2024 graduates as they leave the Commencement ceremony May 24, 2024 in Lebanon, Oregon. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest graduates were urged to connect with patients on a personal level and honor their humanity as they prepared to receive their diplomas and enter their residencies.

Two academic officials in regalia stand before an audience. One speaks into a microphone, the other smiles and listens. They both wear green and gold medallions.
WesternU Provost Paula Crone, DO ’92, (left) and WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA, talk with COMP-Northwest graduates prior to the Commencement ceremony. (Courtesy of OneSource Strategy)

COMP-Northwest held its 10th Commencement ceremony on May 24, 2024, the last of seven WesternU ceremonies celebrating about 1,100 Class of 2024 graduates. All the ceremonies were presided over by WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA.

Jonathan J. Rotella, BA, LHD (Hon.), President and CEO of NexGen Hyperbaric LLC and the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine LLC, served as the keynote speaker. He quoted a well-known saying, “Your full potential is on the other side of fear.”

“As we step into the unknown let’s not be hindered by fear, but emboldened by the opportunities that lie ahead,” Rotella said. “However, amidst your aspirations and ambitions, let us not forget the essence of your calling. If you remember one thing today, please remember this. Those who suffer need you to be something more than a doctor. They need you to be a healer. These words should resonate deeply within the essence of your profession. They remind us that true healing transcends medical expertise. It requires empathy, understanding, but most of all, human connection.

A man wearing academic regalia speaks at a podium with a microphone in front of him.
Jonathan J. Rotella, BA, LHD (Hon.), President and CEO of NexGen Hyperbaric LLC and the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine LLC, provides the keynote address at the COMP-Northwest Commencement ceremony May 24, 2024. (Courtesy of OneSource Strategy)

“To become healers, you must all be willing to do something even more difficult than obtaining your white coats and your degrees today. You must be willing to take them off,” Rotella added. “This symbolizes shedding the formalities of your profession and connecting with patients on a personal level as well as emotional. It is in these moments of vulnerability that true healing occurs. As you move forward, please remember to carry with you the spirit of compassion, the thirst for knowledge, and the courage to step beyond yourselves. Remember that your journey as healers is just beginning and it is your duty to honor the trust placed in you by those you serve. May your paths be filled with purpose, fulfillment and an unwavering commitment to serve humanity. And remember beyond all else, that is what life is about.”

Graduates in black academic gowns with green accents walk down a pathway, flanked by applauding faculty members in similar attire under a tent with a "Welcome" sign in the background.
COMP-Northwest graduate speaker Nicholas Scrivens, DO ’24, during the recessional. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

The COMP-Northwest Class of 2024 selected Nicholas Scrivens, DO ’24, to serve as its graduate speaker. He told his classmates the future of medicine needs their attention, leadership and compassion.

“The practice of medicine has come a long way over the last century, but it still has a long way to go, and it is up to us to shape it. To listen to our patients. To discover new diagnoses and treatments. To address inequality and to heal our world,” Scrivens said. “The core message I leave you with today is to always believe in yourself, especially when times get hard. Stay on the path and you will find there is nothing you can’t achieve. Look around and remember that you are not on the path alone and that asking for help only makes you stronger. Be the change you want to see in medicine. Exemplify humanism in patient care. Educate and inspire the next generation of doctors.”

A speaker in academic regalia addresses the graduating class at a Western University of Health Sciences commencement ceremony. A screen behind lists "Tyler Earley, DO '16, Cardiologist, Samaritan Heart Center, Corvallis, OR.
COMP-Northwest alumnus Tyler Earley, DO ’16, provides the WesternU Alumni Association welcome at Commencement. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

COMP-Northwest alumnus Tyler Earley, DO ’16, provided a welcome from the WesternU Alumni Association. He urged graduates to always remember the core principles that have guided them thus far.

“Chief among these is the importance of seeing humanity in everyone you encounter – patients, staff, and most importantly, yourselves. In the fast-paced world of medicine, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the individuals behind the diagnoses, the names on the charts, and the faces in the hallways,” Earley said. “But it is in precisely those moments of connection, of empathy, and of understanding that the true essence of healing resides. Each patient you encounter will have their own unique story, their own fears and hopes. Their own triumphs and tragedies. It is your job not only to treat their ailments, but also to honor their humanity, to listen to their concerns, to validate their experiences, and to walk alongside them on their journey to wellness. In doing so, you will not only heal their bodies but also nourish their souls.”

A graduate in cap and gown holds a diploma while standing between two faculty members on stage. A large screen in the background displays their name and university. Others are seated in the background.
COMP and COMP-Northwest Acting Dean David Connett, DO ’84, (standing, right) handed out diplomas with WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

COMP and COMP-Northwest Acting Dean David Connett, DO ’84, reminded graduates that ethical behavior, professionalism, service to our fellow humans, and the courage to uphold these values have always been the core of the physician identity.

“Therefore, I charge you to seek the truth and pursue it steadily. Always conduct your life with integrity and put your patients first,” Connett said. “Altruism and a deep sense of our shared humanity form the basis of your calling medicine. And your capacity to care for others is what sets you apart. Furthermore, I encourage you to sustain your call to service and advocacy that you brought to WesternU COMP and COMP-Northwest. There is so much that needs to be done in our communities, in our country, and around the world. Strive to be the physician citizen, the physician officer, or the physician activist that will make an impact beyond the exam room. As our newest WesternU alumni, I urge you to continue pursuing your dreams and stay engaged with your alma mater. We are eager to know how you are doing and take pride in your achievements.”

COMP-Northwest graduate Alexander Jones, DO ’24, from Salem, Oregon, earned his undergraduate degree from Oregon State University and chose to attend WesternU because it’s his hometown medical school.

“It made the best sense to practice here eventually and train here in Oregon. I will be completing my residency in internal medicine with Samaritan in Corvallis,” Jones said. “I really enjoyed my clinical rotations, and I enjoyed spending time with all my classmates. I wanted to be a doctor because I want to help people immediately, rather than do something that could take years to have a positive impact on people.”

A group of people in military uniforms raising the American flag outside a brick building, while another person in uniform salutes.
The flagpole ceremony honoring William E. Bryan, EdD, was held May 23, 2024 at COMP-Northwest.

COMP-Northwest held a dinner celebration and its Armed Forces Commissioning Ceremony in the days leading up to Commencement. Prior to the Commissioning Ceremony, COMP-Northwest held a flagpole ceremony in honor of William E. Bryan, EdD. Bryan was involved with the feasibility study for COMP-Northwest, and supported WesternU for the rest of his life.

“He never stopped supporting this team. He never stopped pushing this team. He never stopped working toward helping us be our best. He helped create a solid foundation for us to build on,” said WesternU Provost Paula M. Crone, DO ’92. “Bill is embedded in who we are at COMP-Northwest.

“He made our world a better place and he leaves a very proud legacy for us to continue to build upon,” Crone added. “I promise you all of us will continue to work really hard to make Bill proud of us in what COMP-Northwest is and what it is yet to become. We will carry it forward for Bill.”

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