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OHSU to honor more than 1,200 new graduates at 2018 commencement

2017 OHSU Convocation
Over 1,200 students will graduate from the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public health this month. (OHSU/Aaron Bieleck)

A new generation of health care professionals, educators and researchers are graduating from OHSU this month. Commencement ceremonies begin Sunday, June 3, and will continue through the month. A total of 1,218 degrees will be awarded.

Ceremonies for the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will be held June 3 at the Oregon Convention Center. The speaker will be Oregon state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, who is also an adjunct associate professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Ceremonies for the Oregon State University/OHSU College of Pharmacy and the OHSU School of Nursing campuses outside Portland will take place June 14-16.

2016 Convocation
Dr. Joe Robertson, at OHSU Commencement, June 10, 2016. (OHSU)

“Commencement is a special day. One of the reasons many of us choose careers in academic health care is the chance to work with students. Their energy, idealism and enthusiasm is infectious,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “As we release these new graduates into the world as skilled and committed providers, educators and research scientists, I am confident that their experiences at OHSU have well prepared them to impact the health and well-being of Oregonians.”

The OHSU School of Dentistry will award 81 degrees this year.

“The OHSU School of Dentistry has a 119-year tradition of graduating leaders in their respective fields,” said Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. “Our graduates represent the bright future of oral health care, exhibiting compassion and impeccable clinical skills. There is no doubt that the class of 2018 will continue this long-lived tradition.”

The OHSU School of Medicine will award 494 degrees and certificates.

“For many of our medical and graduate students and their families, graduation is the realization of a lifelong dream,” said Sharon Anderson, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. “Congratulations to our graduates for the tenacity and focus that brought them to this great day and thank you to the mentors, teachers, family members and friends who supported them along the way. Our community will be better for the work they will go on to do in medicine and the biomedical sciences.”

The OHSU School of Nursing will award 488 degrees and certificates.

“Our 2018 nursing graduates are prepared for clinical practice, education, organizational leadership, improving care or discovering new science,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of the OHSU School of Nursing. “All are emerging leaders, ready to play a vital role in the health of Oregon and beyond.”

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will award 73 degrees and certificates.

“The graduates of the class of 2018 are entering the public health field at a very important time for Oregon and our nation,” said David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “With the U.S. having the most expensive health care system in the world with the worst outcomes of any industrialized democracy, there is now a realization that we will not be able to treat our way out of this problem. More than ever, we need public health practitioners to move upstream to address social determinants of health at the population level. Our graduates will find new approaches to affordable housing and prevent homelessness, universal access to early childhood education to create successful lifelong pathways, reverse the toxic stress of racism and other forms of hatred and solve the problems of tomorrow that we do not yet realize today. They are our future health and well-being.”

The OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will award 82 degrees.

“I am proud to join the faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy in congratulating the class of 2018 on their achievements,” said Mark Zabriskie, Ph.D., dean of the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy. “Whether they choose to pursue postgraduate training or public health opportunities, or practice in hospital or community settings, our graduates are well prepared to make impactful contributions and lead efforts to improving health and wellness in any populations they serve.”

Meet some of OHSU’s 2018 graduates

Eddie Ramirez, D.M.D. – OHSU School of Dentistry

Eddie Ramirez, D.D.M.
Eddie Ramirez, D.M.D.

Eddie Ramirez has wanted to be a dentist since he was 8. That’s when he first observed his aunt, then a newly minted dentist in Mexico, work in her clinic. He put on gloves, cleaned out spit bowls and was hooked.

It hasn’t been easy to achieve his dream, however. He was 1 when his parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico on a tourist visa, which brought both opportunities and challenges. Ramirez is the first undocumented immigrant to attend the OHSU School of Dentistry.

“I’ve had this goal for so long,” Ramirez said. “There’s always been obstacles. I’ve always had to fight. But to be able to say I’ve made it, to think I am graduating and going to be a dentist in the community … it’s a surreal feeling.”

Even with a dental degree, his future remains uncertain. He’s able to work through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which is under ongoing debate in D.C.

“DACA is always going to be a concern,” Ramirez said. “The reality is they need a definitive solution. If it goes away, I’m left without a job.”

Ramirez attended OHSU through the Scholars for Health Oregon Initiative, which requires its scholarship recipients to work five years in rural or other underserved areas. Starting Aug. 1, he will be at the Hillsboro dental clinic of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which cares for farmworkers and other underserved populations in Washington and Yamhill counties.

Lauren Harry, M.D. – OHSU School of Medicine

Lauren Harry, M.D.
Lauren Harry, M.D.

Lauren Harry will participate in commencement June 3, but she actually graduated March 23. She graduated early this year thanks to OHSU’s new YOUR M.D. curriculum, which her class is the first to complete.

OHSU launched the YOUR M.D. curriculum in August 2014. The curriculum moves away from a one-size-fits-all, lock-step education plan to a more personalized, flexible and interactive curriculum that emphasizes demonstrating competency in core areas.

While the ability for students to move through at their own pace has not yet been fully implemented, 32 students in this year’s class shaved off the last term of medical school. Harry front-loaded her requirements to finish early, for a savings of $11,784 in tuition and fees.

“That savings means a lot to me,” she said. “I didn’t have to take out as many loans as some of my friends. I’m graduating with $140,000 in debt, which is pretty good in comparison to a number of my classmates.”

She dreamed of playing the clarinet professionally but studied both music and pharmacy at Oregon State University to ensure a decent-paying day job – until she realized she loved chemistry more than music theory. After shifting to pharmacy, she discovered building long-term relationships with patients and having a wider range of therapeutic tools in her toolbox was even more appealing.

Following commencement, she will head to University of South Florida for a residency in vascular surgery.

Christine Lasich, R.N., M.S.N., A.G.A.C.N.P.-B.C. – OHSU School of Nursing

Christine Lasich, R.N., M.S.N., A.G.A.C.N.P.-B.C.
Christine Lasich, R.N., M.S.N., A.G.A.C.N.P.-B.C.

Though Christine Lasich loved being an ICU nurse for 15 years, she wanted more.

“I had the nagging feeling that I hadn’t hit the top of my career,” she said. “I knew I had more to learn and give.”

This was why, 12 years after last being a student, Lasich enrolled in the OHSU School of Nursing’s doctoral program for acute care nurse practitioners (adult gerontology). While it was difficult to return to academia as an older student, she was able to meet the challenge with the support and encouragement of family, friends and co-workers.

She credits the school’s Hartford Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence for her the opportunity to learn more about older patients, particularly in a critical care setting. It is the fastest growing group of patients and one she will see a lot of throughout her career. Lasich received a Hearst Endowed Scholarship, which supports future advanced practice nurses whose focus will be the health of older adults.

“My education has allowed me to take a giant leap in my nursing career,” Lasich said. “I am bridging my nursing background with the medical model to work as a provider in an inpatient hospital setting,”

Her resolve and tenacity paid off. She landed a job as the first inpatient nurse practitioner on a primary service floor at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. She will start working with Legacy’s cardiothoracic surgery team after graduation and will later work in surgery, ICU, acute care and clinic settings.

Kweku Wilson, Ph.D. – OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Kweku Wilson, Ph.D.
Kweku Wilson, Ph.D.

Kweku Wilson grew up around health care in Ghana, West Africa, as one of seven children raised by a physician father and midwife mother. Wilson didn’t look favorably upon the health care system however. His parents worked a lot, and the family received leftover food from the hospital, which, in a developing country, wasn’t a positive.

The irony isn’t lost on Wilson that on June 3, he will receive a doctorate degree in health systems and policy from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “I guess it’s the ghost of my upbringing coming back to haunt me,” he said.

Wilson came to the U.S. in 2000 to earn a master’s degree in economics and business administration from Oregon State University. There, Wilson found two loves: His wife, Diana, and an interest in health care. At Portland State University, he received a second master’s degree in public administration in health administration. Far from done, in 2008, Wilson began a decade-long journey to earning his doctorate.

Wilson is humble about the challenges he faced and sacrifices he made in pursuing his doctorate. From missing the funeral of his half-brother in Ghana to waiting three years for the data needed for his dissertation, the work was arduous and lonely, and he questioned whether this was the right path.

The research for his dissertation - for which he explored cost savings in Oregon’s primary care home health care delivery model - and his work for the Oregon Health Authority demonstrates his focus on improving people’s lives.

“’To who much is given, much is expected,’” he quoted. “What am I going to do with this degree? Be of help to people, to share knowledge, to be a socially responsible person.”

Wilson added, “In Ghana, a marker of success as a child is to be more than what your parents were, to achieve something your parents could not. I’ve been able to do that.”

Bo Weber, Pharm.D. – OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy

Bo Weber, Pharm.D.
Bo Weber, Pharm.D.

Bo Weber was lucky enough to find her calling early.

Originally from Incheon, South Korea, Bo was always drawn to assisting others. As a first-generation Asian American, she saw her parents face challenges navigating the American health care system and knew she wanted to assist individuals who faced similar obstacles. She counts herself fortunate to have had a science teacher who introduced pharmacy to her and encouraged her to pursue it as a profession.

“This is why I decided to be involved with the diversity committee within our college, to introduce this profession to minorities who may not have exposure to pharmacy as a potential career,” Bo said.

After earning a bachelor’s of science in microbiology from OSU, Bo researched a novel protein secreted by the diarrheal pathogen Vibrio cholerae and completed a first-author manuscript with the college’s Aleksandra Sikora, Ph.D. She also minored in Spanish and helped primarily Spanish-speaking patients obtain free primary care services through Albany InReach Services, which provides free medical care to low-income adults with no insurance. She also pursued another project in epidemiological research, with the college’s Jon Furuno, Ph.D., M.S., that was funded by the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education.

“Through these experiences,” Bo said., “I was able to understand how to contribute to the scientific community in order to deepen our knowledge of various scientific areas.”

Following graduation, Bo will work for Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon, as a first-year pharmacy resident.


Graduation ceremony details

A convocation ceremony for all OHSU schools will take place at 1 p.m., Sunday, June 3, 2018, at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in downtown Portland.

Shortly following the ceremony, graduates of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will move to their individual school hooding ceremonies to be recognized for their academic achievements. OHSU administration will host receptions for all graduates, faculty, family and friends following the ceremonies.

Hooding ceremonies for the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will take place at 1 p.m., Friday, June 15, at the LaSells Stewart Center Austin Auditorium, 875 SW 26th St. in Corvallis. More information is on the College of Pharmacy website.

Ceremonies for the OHSU School of Nursing campuses in Ashland, Klamath Falls, La Grande and Monmouth will take place June 14, 15 and 16. More information is on the School of Nursing website.


2017 OHSU Convocation


OHSU 2018 Degree Data

Total degrees given during 2017-18 school year: 1,218

OHSU School of Dentistry – 81 total degrees

Doctor of Dental Medicine – 68

Master of Science – 7

Advanced Education – 6

OHSU School of Medicine – 494 total degrees

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) – 136

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – 36

  • Behavioral Neuroscience – 5
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – 1
  • Biomedical Engineering – 8
  • Biomedical Informatics – 3
  • Cancer Biology – 6
  • Cell & Developmental Biology – 4
  • Computer Science & Engineering – 1
  • Microbiology – 2
  • Molecular & Medical Genetics – 1
  • Neuroscience – 5

Combined degrees – 10

  • Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy (M.D./Ph.D.) – 7
  • Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (M.D./M.P.H.) – 3

Master’s degrees – 170

  • Master of Science in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – 3
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics – 7
  • Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition – 3
  • Master of Science in Computer Science & Engineering – 3
  • Master of Science in Environmental Science & Engineering – 7
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management – 19
  • Master of Science in Human Nutrition – 7
  • Master of Science in Medical Physics – 4
  • Master of Biomedical Informatics – 14
  • Master of Business Administration – 41
  • Master of Clinical Research – 21
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies - 41

Graduate certificates – 64

  • Biomedical Informatics – 14
  • Dietetic Internship – 12
  • Healthcare Management – 20
  • Human Investigations Program – 18

Bachelor’s degrees – 50

  • Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science – 46
  • Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy – 4

Associate’s degrees – 28

  • Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic – 28

OHSU School of Nursing – 488 total degrees

Doctor of Nursing Practice – 29

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – 7

Master’s degrees – 75

Master of Nursing in Adult Gerontology Acute Care – 6

Master of Nursing in Family Nurse Practitioner – 13

Master of Nursing in Health Systems & Organizational Leadership – 8

Master of Nursing in Nurse Anesthesia – 10

Master of Nursing in Nursing Education – 8

Master of Nursing in Nurse Midwifery – 14

Master of Nursing in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – 9

Master of Nursing in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – 9

Post-Master certificate – 1

Bachelor of Science – 376

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health – 73 total degrees

Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology – 1

Master’s degrees – 69

  • Master of Science in Biostatistics – 2
  • Master of Science in Health Studies - 4
  • Master of Public Health in Biostatistics – 2
  • Master of Public Health in Epidemiology – 10
  • Master of Public Health in Environmental Systems & Human Health – 5
  • Master of Public Health in Health Management & Policy – 19
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion – 17
  • Master of Public Health in Primary Health & Health Disparities – 10

Certificates – 3

  • Certificate in Biostatistics – 2
  • Certificate in Public Health – 1

OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy – 82 total degrees





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