MOULTRIE, Ga. — On Monday, July 25, eight students earned their Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree from PCOM South Georgia in Moultrie, making them the campus’s first graduating class.
Held at Southern Regional Technical College in Moultrie, friends, family members and leadership from PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia came together to celebrate the momentous occasion, according to a press release from the medical college.
Honoring the graduates
Fiancee Williams, MS/Biomed ’22, Krupesh Patel, MS/Biomed ’22, Anthony Pelache, MS/Biomed ’22, Elohise St. Forte, MS/Biomed ’22, Teighlor Livingston, MS/Biomed ’22, Yatri Thaker, MS/Biomed ’22, Kylie Parrish, MS/Biomed ’22, and Janai Grooves, MS/Biomed ’22, were presented with degrees and hoods.
At a pre-commencement dinner dance held on Sunday, July 24, students, faculty and staff celebrated the students and honored Pelache, Groves and Livingston who received awards for their hard work and dedication to their studies and classmates.
Pelache earned the biomedical sciences leadership award that recognized a student who demonstrated exceptional leadership, the press release said. The Florida native was nominated by his peers for general leadership characteristics, high academic achievement and the ability to effectively represent the class in college and community affairs.
Hailing from nearby Albany, Georgia, Groves was awarded the diversity award, an award that recognized a member of the graduating class who made a unique contribution and created an environment of shared responsibility and ownership for diversity and inclusion at PCOM.
Livingston, coming from Lakeland, Georgia, served as the class chair and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Her outstanding academic achievement earned the dean’s award for the highest scholastic average in the class.
For many students, commencement was the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another. St. Forte completed the graduate program with a concentration in public and population health leadership
“I enjoyed sharing a learning space with my classmates and professors and will miss the camaraderie, but I’m excited to put my skills to use and expand in my career path,” she said. “Public health fits all of my passions for health care in one. It combines my love of science and critical thinking with my desire to connect with people. It also gives me the ability to implement change in health policies and initiate needed programs.”
Now that she has a few new letters to add behind her name, St. Forte plans to work in public health in a position where she can impact health literacy and equity among underserved and minority communities.
Four graduates of the biomedical sciences program plan to continue learning and pursuing careers in life sciences and health care. The other four graduates will be part of the PCOM South Georgia Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2026 beginning in August 2022.
Words of encouragement and pride
Kevin Karem, PhD, director of the Southeast Food and Feed Laboratory at the US Food and Drug Administration, served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
Addressing graduates who share similar passions and dreams, he said, “You are on a journey that is just beginning. We all have a responsibility to maintain objectivity to seek and spread truth – not ideology – and to help others rather than break them down, to investigate problems rather than express opinions.”
He advised the students, “You are graduating into a chaotic world. Do not lose yourself in that chaos. Maintain civility in an increasingly hostile society, tolerance and empathy in the face of intolerance and truth in the face of ignorance. We all ask you to keep moving forward, and do not lose sight of what is possible. Others are counting on you.”
Jay S. Feldstein, DO `81, PCOM president and CEO, congratulated the students in his remarks saying, “As scientists, researchers and future healthcare leaders, focus – and refocus again – on the whole person. Respect diversity and promote inclusion. Stand with dignity and purpose. Be driven by kindness, compassion and empathy.”
Edward Shaw, PhD, director of the biomedical sciences program, spent the last two years with the graduates as a teacher and administrator. He spoke to the students with excitement and encouragement.
“I have had the privilege of watching you all as you led by discovery and by example,” he said. “You rose to the challenge of courses taught at a medical-school pace and depth. You rose to the challenge of professionalism and scientific thought-oriented graduate courses, and you rose to the challenge of the sometimes-uncomfortable situation of making public presentations. Through these challenges, the faculty and I have borne witness to your humility, professionalism, and growth as future professionals in the health science arena.”