The Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine at A. T. Still University welcomed 172 new students Saturday afternoon during its annual "White Coat Ceremony," held in the Baldwin Hall Auditorium on the Truman State University campus.
The ceremony is a rite of passage, where students begin their journey of becoming an osteopathic physician. Many of the incoming students said they were overwhelmed with emotions.
"There's an impending sense of responsibility and you know that it's a very serious undertaking," said Philip Mathew, whose wife is also a graduate of A. T. Still University. "It's going to be very trying at times, but it's going to be filled with a lot of rewards...so very excited to be a part of this institution."
This year's Class of 2016 has 72 females students and 100 male students. The members of the class represent 35 states, and 37 of them are from Missouri. Ten of the students are Truman State University alums, and one of the incoming students is a Kirksville High School graduate.
"Coming back home is wonderful," said Stacy Reichel. "This community has given so much to me when I was growing up so it's great to give back to the community and I wouldn't want to do this anywhere else."
Reichel said she would like to one day work as a physician in Kirksville. Her mother, Shelly Berman, said she could not be more pleased with her daughter's decision to study medicine close to home.
The University's new president, Dr. Craig Phelps, and new dean, Dr. Margaret Wilson, offered remarks during the ceremony.