Meet 3 graduates of OU’s medical school

Grace Turner, managing editor

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Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) graduated its second class today. Three graduates shared their journeys. 

Woody Sams

When Woody Sams, 34, was a paramedic, he wanted to do more for his patients.

On May 13, he graduated from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) with hopes to become an emergency department physician.

After working as a corrections officer and firefighter paramedic in Ohio, he moved to Alaska to become a Navy flight paramedic. The job took him to California, where he completed his undergraduate degree at San Diego Christian College with the support of his wife.

Sams’ first impression of OUWB was that of a caring and supportive environment.

“You could tell it was a genuine interest in the students,” he said.

That interest continued throughout his time in the program, which was necessary, Sams said. He compared the medical school to a family that was supportive through countless hours of study.

“The attitude of everybody there is just encouraging,” he said.

Sams was nominated and elected by his classmates to make the student speech at the commencement ceremony. His speech focused on the gratitude he feels toward OUWB.

He will complete a four-year residency at the University of Michigan and study emergency medicine. He will be able to commute to U of M without uprooting his wife and three children.

Joe Vercellone

Joe Vercellone, 47, studied film and television production at New York University after high school.

With the birth of the internet, he found a job helping companies develop websites but didn’t feel fulfilled.

Almost 20 years and a family later, he started taking math and science night classes at OU and quit his job in 2011. On Friday, he graduated from OUWB.

He has three sons, aged 16, 14 and 11. Because they’re older, Vercellone could do his homework at the same time as them.

His wife has been supportive through all the changes.

The family feel of OUWB stuck out for Vercellone. He said the faculty and dean knew students by name.

Vercellone finally feels “fulfilled yet terrified,” he said with a laugh. “This is going be a wonderful adventure.”

He added that people should pursue their dreams no matter their age.

“It will work out if you put the energy and time into it,” he said.

Vercellone will complete a three-year residency in internal medicine at Beaumont Hospital. He hopes to eventually do academic attending, which would allow him to help educate future residents and medical students when they come to a hospital. He’s also interested in teaching, preferably at OU. 

Raymond Yeow

Raymond Yeow, 25, knew he wanted to be a doctor as early as middle school.

He often heard about his aunt and uncle, who practiced medicine in Malaysia, and was drawn to the sciences in high school. He also wanted to practice a profession that helped people.

During his time at OUWB, Yeow had meaningful interactions with patients at Beaumont. He volunteered to give diagnostic screening tests to community members and met a man who hadn’t seen a doctor in over 30 years. They helped him find a physician to treat his high cholesterol for free.

He also got to know a woman in the hospital. She called him after she was released to let him know that her health concerns had been resolved.

“Sometimes patients just want to be heard,” Yeow said. He is happy that he could listen.

Yeow got his undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University. Yeow liked the environment and small class size and was happy to find a similar atmosphere at OUWB.

His classmates were very supportive, Yeow said.

“No matter what, we go through as a single unit,” he said.

Yeow will study internal medicine with a three-year residency at the University of Michigan.