Classes of 2024 and 2025 celebrate milestone at Convocation and White Coat Ceremonies


On October 17, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine students in the Classes of 2024 and 2025 celebrated an important milestone: their much-awaited Convocation and White Coat Ceremony. Delayed due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the entire COMmunity enthusiastically celebrated first- and second-year medical students through this rite of passage which is usually held during orientation of the first year of medical school.

The White Coat Ceremony is a significant milestone at the start of a medical student’s career—the donning of the short white coat marks the beginning of their journey to achieve the long white coat, which they receive upon graduation as a physician. The ceremony symbolizes a commitment to serve with professionalism and emphasizes the importance of the science medicine and the art of caring. The iconic ritual honors the importance of compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent care from the very first day of training through each day of medical practice. Learn more about the history and symbolism of the white coat here.

Each class received their own ceremony, celebrated both in person at the Breslin Student Events Center and available via livestream for family and friends to cheer on from afar. If you missed it, you can watch the ceremonies here.

“The medical school experience confirms a student doctor's commitment to serve the greater good. We affirm students' journeys toward becoming osteopathic physicians through the ceremonial donning of the white coat. This event shows our pride and support of our students,” said Dean Andrea Amalfitano during opening comments.

Keynote speaker Deanna Ingrassia Miano, D.O. ('21), shared experience, advice and reflections with the students: “What makes a strong physician is more than acquired knowledge alone. It’s having the ability to integrate compassion and emotion along with intelligence to facilitate well-rounded care.”

Other speakers included Umar Akel, OMS-II and Student Government Association president, and David Best, D.O. and president of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, who congratulated each student on joining the osteopathic medical family, the fastest growing segment of health care professionals in Michigan and the United States.

Just as each doctor’s white coat journey is different, the symbolism of the white coat carries different meaning for each medical student. Three students who “got white coated” last month reflect on the coat’s significance to them.

Jourdon Robinson, OMS-II, Student National Medical Association president, says, “To me, the white coat represents the role of leader and healer. It symbolizes the opportunity to change lives and to make a difference in my community. I've wanted to be a physician for a long time. My first time wearing it, I couldn't believe that I had finally made it. I am still so grateful to be here.” Robinson hopes to work with children in underserved areas and communities of color to de-stigmatize mental health and emphasize its importance to physical health in an effort to prevent health disparities later on. She also hopes to conduct research and engage in advocacy related to child welfare. “I am #DOproud, because MSUCOM has provided me the chance to fulfill my dreams of becoming a physician. My journey to medical school was unconventional to say the least, but COM saw potential in me and for that, I am forever grateful.”

Paige Mellema, OMS-I and curriculum representative for her class, says, “This white coat symbolizes my entrance into medicine and putting into practice the lessons I learned on the path to get here. Lessons such as the importance of having kindness and respecting the dignity of the human person are necessary to becoming a well-rounded physician. The unified white coat that our class now shares symbolizes the fact that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, and it is our duty to set the standard for what it means to wear this white coat. I love using my hands to heal and look forward to implementing the osteopathic philosophy in my future practice.” She continues, “While putting on this white coat I felt proud and excited for what is to come. I also felt a profound sense of gratitude. The support I received from my family, friends and mentors on this journey to medical student cannot be overstated.”

Maria Miglio, OMS-II, 2024 class president, remarks, “The white coat represents the years of work I put in to get into medical school, the countless hours I am dedicating to studying for my future patients in medical school, and the future positive impact I will one day be able to have within the medical field and for my patients. Putting on my white coat for the first time was definitely an ‘I made it’ moment for me. I felt proud of myself and my classmates.”

Good luck with this part of your white coat journey!