POMONA, Calif. – Aug. 11, 2007 – Students got their first taste of life behind the white lab coat at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona.

The university, celebrating its 30th anniversary, welcomed students and

their families at its annual convocation, white coat ceremonies and

barbecue on Saturday, Aug. 11. WesternU, a nonprofit graduate university

for the health professions, has 674 incoming students and an estimated

enrollment of about 2,250.

Convocation speakers at Pomona First Baptist Church talked about the

responsibilities of health professionals.

“”The value you seek, the value WesternU hopes you will take away from

here is far more than a certificate wrapped in a diploma,”” said Warren

Lawless, chairman of the board of trustees for WesternU. “”It is the

knowledge, skills and humanism you acquire for yourselves which will be

with you for the rest of your lives.””

Each of the five colleges held white coat ceremonies after convocation.

Students are cloaked in their first white clinical jackets, which

symbolize entry into the healing professions, said Dr. Philip Pumerantz,

president of Western University.

“”It also serves to remind us of the awesome responsibility and the

powerful influence of the healer,”” he said.

Charles M. Magistro, PT, FAPTA, DSc (Hon.), DPT (Hon.), past president of

the American Physical Therapy Association, and Miguel Medina, PA-C,

president-elect of the California Academy of Physician Assistants and a

WesternU instructor, spoke at the College of Allied Health Professions

White Coat Ceremony at Fairplex.

Ellen Daroszewski, PhD, APRN, BC, talked about “”the context of nursing””

at the College of Graduate Nursing White Coat Ceremony on campus. She

serves as an associate professor of nursing at WesternU.

Dev A. GnanaDev, MD, MBA, medical director and chairman of the Department

of Surgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, gave the keynote address

at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific White Coat Ceremony

at Pomona First Baptist Church.

Dr. GnanaDev serves on the boards of the California Medical Association,

the ARMC Foundation, the Inland Empire Burn Institute and the UCR Biomed

Advisory Commission.

Jesse F. Martinez, PharmD, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy

practice at WesternU, gave the keynote speech at the College of Pharmacy

White Coat Ceremony on campus. He serves as president and chief executive

officer of an institutional pharmacy corporation and is past president of

pharmacy operations for Fountain View Corp.

Christine C. Jenkins, DVM, DACVIM, spoke at the College of Veterinary

Medicine White Coat Ceremony at Bridges Hall of Music in Claremont. She

is marketing director, strategic initiatives, at Hill’s Pet Nutrition,

Topeka, Kan.

Putting on the white lab coat changes students’ perceptions of

themselves. Wei Li Zhang, 21, of New York, a student in the doctor of

osteopathic medicine program (DO), said she did not feel like a medical

student even though classes have started. But putting on her white coat

made her feel differently.

“”We’re here. We’re going to be future doctors,”” she said.

Ajitha Jickson, 28, is a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

Jickson, who grew up in southern India, is earning a master’s degree from

the College of Graduate Nursing and she also plans to earn a doctorate.

She is balancing work, school and her family, which includes husband

Jickson Poulose and 7-month-old son Toby.

“”I think it will be easier later,”” she said of juggling her various

responsibilities. “”In the beginning it will be tough.””

Angelique Heilig, 26, DO class of 2011, took an unusual route to medical

school, studying music at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. The

San Diego resident’s hospital work in music therapy inspired her to

become a doctor.

“”It’s going to be hard,”” she said. “”I know I’m going to be studying

almost all the time.””

She doesn’t expect to have much of a social life, but she does plan to

get involved in student clubs and other activities, Heilig said.

Her mother, Betty Heilig, of San Diego, said Angelique has gone farther

in her education than anyone else in her family.

“”She’ll make an excellent doctor,”” Heilig said of her daughter. “”She’s

very caring and good with people. That’s the best thing. She wants to

make a difference in the world and in life.””

Rodney Tanaka can be reached at (909) 469-5402, or at