LEBANON — The 105 first-year students at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest were welcomed at the convocation and white coat ceremony Saturday.

The class of 2017 was given advice and words of encouragement by the different speakers at the event.

Jim Willis, retired director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, gave a keynote speech.

Willis encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunity they will have to work with veterans at the soon-to-be-built veterans’ home.

“You will find some of these veterans and their spouses are at a point in their lives where they are quite blunt,” Willis said.

Willis also offered the students some words of encouragement on making it through medical school: “You have a support group on your left and right that will make sure you won’t fail,” Willis said.

The importance of family, and the new family students gain in attending COMP-Northwest, was a common thread among the speakers.

White coat keynote and alumni speaker Katherine Fisher said family is what matters most.

She said in addition to their “family family,” students now have been adopted into a new family.

“We the faculty and staff are now part of your family and we will do everything in our power to help you succeed,” Fisher said.

Karen Hill, a learning skills specialist at COMP-Northwest, said one of her favorite parts of the white coat ceremony is meeting the families of the new students.

“It’s fun to see all the excitement,” Hill said.

Genny and Paul Anthes came from Northern California to see their son Jason Anthes.

“He’s planned on this for 20 years,” Genny Anthes said.

He was a nuclear engineer during his time in the Navy and applied to the school when he got out.

“When he got out of the Navy, he came to live with us,” she said. “Part of the time, went with his dad to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I went there as a teacher but he volunteered at the clinic,” Paul Anthes said. “I know he has skills for everything he sets his mind to.”

Student Lyman Wood found out on Aug. 2 he was accepted to COMP-Northwest.

Another student was dropped, and Wood was next in line.

He said he cried when he found out.

“I was ecstatic,” Wood said. “I wanted to come here since I interviewed in February. It’s a dream come true.”

Wood just had foot surgery, so his father drove him from Utah that night.

His wife and mother arrived the following day.

Wood was at the white coat ceremony in crutches.

“So, we’re flying by the seat of our pants and loving every minute of it,” Wood said.

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