JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - State and local officials spent their Thursday afternoon celebrating with Arkansas State University and New York Institute of Technology representatives.
A lunch program followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony took place outside of Wilson Hall.
They celebrated the beginning of NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine at A-State.
Once the project was approved, Wilson Hall received a $12.6 renovation, installing medical labs and signage throughout the building.
Governor Asa Hutchinson joined the crowd on campus and even spoke at the luncheon saying this is what education is all about.
"Higher education should be about addressing the academic education professional needs of our state," Hutchinson said. "One of the great needs we have is in rural medicine. It is in providing greater access to healthcare and the Osteopathic College will exactly do that. And so, we're thrilled with the partnership between ASU and the New York Institute of Technology that will help us meet a need here in this state. I'm delighted to be here to congratulate them. I was pleased to be a part of the recommendation that they be approved and credentialed for this program."
A-State officials first began working with NYIT on this project in 2012.
Hutchinson said it was wonderful to see the college done and ready to teach our newest medical students.
"You have a plan, you have a vision and executing that is the important part of it," Hutchinson said. "To see over one hundred students that will be coming here in the near future to get their education. To be able to be out in the areas of our state that need greater healthcare access, it's critical."
The curriculum for an osteopathic school teaches students about different systems of the body, including cardiac and gastrointestinal.
Students also learn how to use their hands to help diagnose problems, as well as looking at muscular or skeletal areas for signs of what's wrong.
Jonesboro native Hallie Frederick will begin her first year as a medical student in August.
She said she was thrilled to be studying for her medical degree in her hometown.
"Being born and raised in Jonesboro and growing up always wanting to be a doctor, this is pretty much heaven for me," Frederick said. "I can't believe there is a medical school in Jonesboro. The fact that it's the New York Institute of Technology makes it extra special because it's pretty much the most high-tech campus in the state for sure. So, I'm really excited about it. It means the world to me that I get to study to be a doctor in my hometown."
A number of students have also traveled far to be in the program.
Mirsha Stiven is also a first year medical student, but is from South Florida.
Stiven said she also can't wait to get started.
"I am so excited," Stiven said. "I've been wanting this for a long time. So, I'm thrilled to finally start medical school."
Stiven agreed with Frederick that this program is a huge opportunity for medical students.
"The program is a great opportunity for all students," Stiven said. "There is a lot of high end technology. It's just a great opportunity and you're going to have a big network if you become a part of NYIT."
One hundred and fifteen students will attend NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine on A-State's campus in August.
The first set of graduates in this new program will graduate in May of 2020.
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