West Liberty University’s newest class of students enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program marked their entrance into the rigorous world of medicine with the official White Coat Ceremony, held at 5 p.m., July 16, in the E. Boyle Conference Room.

2016 class of PAs white coats

The newest class of Physician Assistants are shown here with PA program staff members, just after the White Coat Ceremony.

Family and friends joined the future PAs for the celebration, which also was attended by WLU faculty and staff.

Program Director Dr. William A. Childers, Jr., opened the program with a welcome and introduction. Provost Dr. Brian Crawford then addressed the group and congratulated them on their selection as member of the new class.

More than 1,300 undergraduates applied for the 20 spots in the master’s program. The new class includes six men and 14 women from all over the region:

Ryan Aston, Glen Easton, W.Va.; Annahita Beheshti, Dallas, Texas; Anthony Berrett, Roberts, Idaho; Natalie Bohn, Weirton, W.Va.; Brianna Clark, Barnesville, Ohio; Tanika Dunz, Marlinton, W.Va.; Allison Durkin, Wheeling; Breanna Edmiston, Moon Township, Pa.; Chad Ford, Weirton, W.Va.; Kristen Harris, Grayville, Ill.; Maryna Haydash, Kent, Wash.; Landyn Lucas, Clarington, Ohio; Amanda Mace, Pittsburgh; Sierra Moore, Zanesville, Ohio; Hope Chiodi Weirton, W.Va.; Brittany Smith, Elmhurst, Ill.; Eric Soult,  Mount Holly, N.J.; Hunter Stein, Wheeling; Mara Wright, Huntington, W.Va. and Dustin Yothers, Pittsburgh.

Dean of the College of Sciences, Dr. Robert Kreisberg also addressed the class and welcomed their families and friends to the Hilltop campus. Kreisberg was instrumental in getting the program up and running in July of 2012. He explained the history of the program and the pride WLU takes in the students, which is the only PA program in the state of West Virginia at a public college.

The 2016 Class of Physician Assistants recite the professional oath.

The 2016 Class of Physician Assistants recite the professional oath at the White Coat Ceremony.

Guest speaker Dr. Howard Shackleford, who is the medical director for the PA program, encouraged the class to remain true to the mission of providing safe healthcare to patients, despite the many distractions and challenges in medicine today.

Also speaking was a member of the second year PAs, Vincenzina Tsouris who will graduate in spring 2015. Having finished her class work of the first year, known as the didactic phase of the program, Tsouris is now in her clinical rotations. She shared student insights and stories with the new PAs and encouraged them to function as a team and work together to achieve their dream.

The students also pledged the official Physician Assistant Oath and gathered afterwards for a reception.

The PA program is one of several health sciences programs offered by WLU. Others include the undergraduate programs of Medical Laboratory ScienceDental HygieneNursing and Speech Pathology/Audiology.

For complete information, please visit the College of Sciences website or call 866-WESTLIB or visit online, westliberty.edu.