MSU celebrates new osteopathic physicians in U.S. and Africa


The Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine celebrated the D.O. class of 2024 Friday, April 25 – first at the Banquet and Awards Ceremony at the Kellogg Center and later at commencement ceremonies, held both in East Lansing and in Malawi, Africa.

Awards Ceremony

New physicians surrounded by family and friends gathered together to enjoy lunch, swap memories and celebrate the winners of college and professional awards.  

Upon presenting a series of awards, Katherine Ruger, Ed.D., senior associate dean for Strategic Initiatives, executive chief of staff and associate professor of Psychiatry for the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, noted the class of 2024’s resilience and dedication during the pandemic and the impact of these qualities on the college itself. “I understand that your experience was not quite what you expected, and it wasn’t quite what we were expecting either, but I want to commend you for your tenacity and your resilience through the process and helping us be better as a college and as administration along the way,” Dr. Ruger said. “We really do appreciate your feedback, and I would like to say that we’re a different college because of it, so thank you for that opportunity.

“I also want to say, ‘thank you’ for having us be a part of today’s event. This is what we live for as faculty and staff of the college – to be able to celebrate these successes with you today.”

Selena Tiberio, D.O., who received the Richard L. Alper Memorial Award at the award ceremony and will begin an emergency medicine residency later this summer, said she is ecstatic to be graduating from medical school. “An MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty member once told me that medical school is made up of long nights and short years, but it will be worth it, and he was certainly right,” Dr. Tiberio recalled. “The time my peers and I have spent dedicated to our careers is unmatched, but to see it all pay off in the end is an amazing feeling. Most of us have dreamed of this moment for a long time and to see it come to fruition after overcoming obstacles and remaining resilient is an indescribable feeling.”

Class of 2024 graduate Cole Showers, D.O., who will continue his medical education in an obstetrics and gynecology residency program, noted the personal significance of earning a medical degree from MSU. “Graduating is such an honor and rewarding experience, especially being a first-generation student and physician,” Dr. Showers shared. “Becoming the first physician in my family is a proud moment for not only myself, but my family who have been supportive of me. Even more special is the fact I'll be graduating from MSU, an institution that has been such a big part of my life for the past eight years, as I've received my bachelor's degrees and now my doctorate degree from the university.”

Howard Teitelbaum, D.O., Ph.D., MPH, professor in the college’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, impressed upon the graduates the power that each of them will hold as a physician. “As a closing remark, let me say that in approximately 3 1/2 hours, you students – your lives – will change forever,” Dr. Teitelbaum said. “When you say something, your words will carry more weight. The initials after your name will make you members of a society whose dedication to the betterment of humankind is exceedingly profound.”

East Lansing Commencement Ceremony

Andrea Amalfitano, D.O., Ph.D., a professor for the college in the Department of Microbiology, Genetics and Immunology who also served as dean of the college from 2018-2023, helped open the commencement ceremony by speaking to the special value that osteopathic physicians bring to healthcare and scientific research.

“Medicine is more than just a science – it is still a medical art,” Dr. Amalfitano said. “As osteopathic physicians, we do not reduce patients down to a single symptom or radiographic finding or nucleotide, but we always approach our patients in a holistic manner, looking at the greater picture, including our patients’ families and greater society, with every medical and research decision we make.

“As a result, you will now always bring a unique and progressive skillset to the patients you will now guide in health, in each and every encounter, holistically preserving health and, when necessary, treating disease.”

Academic medical oncologist and researcher Patricia LoRusso, D.O., associate director of the Yale Cancer Center, first D.O. president of the American Association for Cancer Research and 1981 alumna of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, delivered a commencement address that spoke to the process of learning and growing from life’s experiences in order to have the strongest impact possible on patients.

“As I look out at you today, I realize that what sits before me is amazing talent with such potential to go out and change the world, to impact others and to change lives,” Dr. LoRusso said. “I know the motivation exists in each and every one of you, spearheaded by life’s many experiences, excited to embark on a mission to save lives.”

Joyce deJong, D.O., dean for the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, closed out the East Lansing commencement ceremony, sharing her gratitude for the present moment and excitement for things to come. “Thank you so much for all your hard work, your dedication, your resilience and your sacrifice in pursuing this vocation. I admire you all and look forward to continuing our connection as you are now alumni of MSUCOM. With those thoughts, I offer you my congratulations and I wish you all the luck. Go Green!”

Malawi Commencement Ceremony

More than 8,000 miles away in Malawi, class of 2024 members Rachel Song, D.O., Jessie Langmeyer, D.O., and Madison Patrus, D.O., sat together with Terrie Taylor, D.O., University Distinguished Professor and Foundation Professor at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and recipient of the 2024 MSU Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award, to watch the livestream of the college’s East Lansing commencement ceremony, which concluded at 2 a.m. Malawi time.

Drs. Song, Langmeyer and Patrus opted to stay in Malawi to finish their six-week clinical rotation, rather than fly back for the East Lansing ceremony. Of course, they still celebrated with their own ceremony, complete with “Pomp and Circumstance” and hoods created by a local tailor named Patricia with fabric from the downtown market. Dr. Taylor called out each student’s name, and the ceremony was followed by a dinner with medical students from around the world.

Dr. Langmeyer, who is headed for a surgery residency, chose MSU medical school for two reasons: she wanted to attend a D.O. school and MSU has strong international connections. She also shared that Dr. Taylor was one of her first contacts at MSU. “I was very fortunate to meet her at the very beginning of my first year, and I felt like that was no small coincidence – it feels like a full-circle moment to be ending medical school here with her in Malawi and see the amazing work that she’s been doing for the past 40 years and be part of the legacy of students who come here.”

Dr. Patrus, who studied in Malawi as an undergraduate student at MSU and will attend an internal medicine residency, agreed that it was a full-circle moment. “I’m really glad it’s my last rotation of medical school, just to see the difference for me after experiencing the hospital in a more clinical capacity, but also to see how much I’ve grown as a person.”

Dr. Patrus also spoke about Dr. Taylor as a mentor who helps students understand the impact they can have on global health. Dr. Song, who will begin a surgery residency later this summer, agreed. “Dr. Taylor is the real star – it’s sweet to be here and have her spearheading so much, what she’s done for the community, for the school and even for us.”


By E. LaClear