WesternU Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences Interim Dean Guru Betageri, PhD, welcomes students to the GCBS white coat ceremony Dec. 15, 2020.

Western University of Health Sciences’ Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences (GCBS) held its white coat ceremony for 29 students in the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS) and Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MSMS) programs.

GCBS administrators had hoped to hold an in-person ceremony during the academic year, but with COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, they decided to hold a virtual ceremony on Zoom and YouTube Dec. 15, 2020. Each student donned a white coat, marking their symbolic entry into the health professions.

“The students of this class are very special to me and for the program,” said GCBS Interim Dean Guru Betageri, PhD. “You had the courage to enroll in our master’s program to pursue your dreams. I wish you all the best in successfully completing this program and continuing with whatever health professional program you want to pursue.”

Keynote speaker Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, is a nationally-recognized expert on health policy issues who serves as an advisor for state and federal governments on primary care, medical education, and health care issues affecting minorities, women, and rural populations. She is the first African American woman to serve as dean of a U.S. medical school. She served as dean of Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine from 1993 to 2001.

Keynote speaker Barbara Ross-Lee, DO

The journey you are embarking on is a long and very rewarding one, Dr. Ross-Lee told the GCBS students.

“Thank you for being here and making this investment and commitment to the future,” she said. “Your time and personal sacrifices will ultimately benefit all of us, whether through the services you will deliver or the scholarship that you will produce.”

Ross-Lee said she was pleased to be part of this slightly delayed launch, and the reason for the delay only provides emphasis for why the students’ presence is so important.

“This pandemic has shone a spotlight on health vulnerable populations and the disparities in health that they experience,” Ross-Lee said. “It has also highlighted the inequalities in the construct and content of our health care system to equitably serve people of color who are currently 45% of the American population. Each of you brings a perspective that is invaluable not just for you but for the people and communities that you represent. You are important for the future impact of science and the health professions on the health of the entire population and the abolishment of minority health disparities.”