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LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- Nearly two dozen area students will take part in the 13th annual Convocation and White Coat Ceremony Saturday, Aug. 27, at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Of the more than 200 students who will be welcomed as the class of 2015, 20 come from Cabell, Putnam and Logan counties in West Virginia and one is from Flatwoods, Ky.

The event symbolizes first-year students' welcome into the osteopathic medical profession and their journey to become physicians as they are donned with a white coat from doctors.

The entering class of 2015 represents 85 West Virginia residents and 135 out-of-state residents.

During orientation the entering class had a white coat fitting, which many said solidified that they are on their way to becoming doctors. Waseem Khader of Huntington, said it was a surreal experience.

"I'm really looking forward to the ceremony, and with this white coat I'm looking for a great fit," Khader said. "It's great seeing myself as a doctor with this white coat on."

The area students include Elise Sturm Anderson of Culloden;, Michael Vaughn Baxter Bledsoe of Chapmanville; Patrick Alexander Craft of Huntington; Stephanie Lee Dillon of Hurricane; Byron David Dodson of Huntington; Mittra Dawn Esmaeili of Huntington; Don Edward Garrison of Hurricane; Elston Royce Johnson of Logan; Justin Michael Kazee of Huntington; Waseem Majed Khader of Huntington; Holly Anne King of Huntington; Ross Martin Knowles of Chapmanville; Jaclyn Ann Lazaro of Huntington; Laura Elaine Mader of Huntington; Nicholas Otto Meade of Man; Darby Danielle Mullen of Pecks Mill; Ryan Christopher Quinn of Scott Depot; Alyson Anne Shattls of Huntington; Jacob Christopher Smith of Ona; Ashley Lynn Stewart of Barboursville; and Amy Elizabeth Young of Huntington. Haileigh Danielle Ross is from Flatwoods, Ky.

Dr. Manuel Ballas will serve as the ceremony's keynote speaker. He is a member of WVSOM's class of 1993, and currently serves as the medial director at Change Inc., Family Medical Center and Women's Health Center in Weirton, W.Va.

The Convocation and White Coat Ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

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