Physician Assistant program presents first-year students with white coats

West Liberty University’s first-year physician assistant (PA) program students were presented with their white coats in a socially distanced ceremony last Friday. The ceremony had been delayed until this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic but was able to go ahead last week with adjustments to maintain health and safety protocols. Two guests were allowed per student at the ceremony which was held in Kelly Theatre on WLU’s main campus.

Program Director, Dr. William Childers opened the event followed by words from Dr. Karen Kettler, Dean of the College of Sciences. Jenna Ogden, a PA at Trinity Medical Center in Steubenville, Ohio and alumna of the program featured as the guest speaker. The WLU Physician Assistant Student Society (PASS) President, Dylan Ringer also spoke.

The program consists of students from all across the United States with 18 of which make up the current first year class. West Liberty boasts one of the most affordable programs in the state of West Virginia and attracts a great deal of applicants each year. The PA Studies degree program takes two years to complete featuring two year-round courses of study. The first 12 months are focused on in-classroom work with the second year centralized on clinical rotations.
The newest class of students that just received their white coats in preparation for the start of their clinical rotation year include: Janette Adkins, Beckley W.Va., Kira Barondeau, Salt Lake City, Utah; Emily Bender, Langeloth, Pa.; Abbey Cusick, Shadyside, Ohio; Tyler Fancher, Joplin, Mo.; Connor Hall, Orem, Utah; Kaylee Hilliard, Bradley, W.Va.; Robert Hutcheson, South Charleston, W.Va.; David Lee, Jacksonville, Fla.; Haleigh Marlowe, Stanley, N.C.; Ethan McDonald, Inwood, W.Va.; Jennifer Myers, Wellsburg, W.Va.; Madison Neiswonger, Beallsville, Ohio; Corey Parsons, Cross Lanes, W.Va.; Abigail Runatz, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Alessa Safko, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Siarra Shaw, Olean, N.Y. and Zachary Sites, Sugar Grove, W.Va.

The White Coat Ceremony is an important moment for any PA student. “The first-year students began the program last summer, but the ceremony was delayed due to the pandemic. “We are pleased that it could finally take place in a safe manner,” explained Childers. The students were finally able to get the full experience.

The ceremony was an opportunity for the current class to celebrate and have their hard work recognized. “It honestly feels like my dream is finally coming true,” said Hilliard. “It makes the process feel so much more real… Finally getting a chance to receive our white coats and have a ceremonial event was just a blessing.”

For more information about West Liberty’s PA program visit or call (304) 336-5098. “It’s so worth it,” said Hilliard. “It’s a profession where every day you will learn something new.”