College Celebrates its Founding | January 2020 News
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College Celebrates its Founding

January 29, 2020

Annual tradition marks the start of PCOM in 1899 by Drs. O.J. Snyder and Mason W. Pressly.

On Friday, January 24th, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) came together as a community in celebration of Founders’ Day. This annual tradition marks the start of PCOM in 1899 by Drs. O.J. Snyder and Mason W. Pressly, both of whom sought to bring the osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole person to Philadelphia.

In recognition of its founding, the College recently hosted celebrations at all three locations as well as a luncheon to honor the recipients of the founders’ namesake awards: the O.J. Snyder Memorial Medal and the Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal. The Alumni Association Certificate of Honor was also presented at the luncheon. This award is given to alumnus/alumna in recognition of loyal devotion to the welfare and strengthening of PCOM.

Each Founders’ Day medal is presented to an alumnus/alumna, community member or student who has exhibited outstanding leadership and service to the osteopathic profession, the College and the community. This year’s O.J. Snyder Memorial Medal recipient, Arthur J. Sesso, DO ’81, has taught at the College since 1986, and has chaired PCOM’s Department of Surgery for 15 years.

Dr. Sesso has dedicated his career to medical education and mentorship at PCOM. He heads the College’s committee focused on transforming physician training with more hands-on learning and less classroom time—and with more focus on wellness, communication and understanding how to run a system-based practice.

As I look back over my career at PCOM, more has been given to me here than any other thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Dr. Sesso. “I met my wife through PCOM, my best friends through PCOM, enjoyed a career beyond imagination in surgery at PCOM, and now a deanship. I have nothing but good things to say about PCOM.”

Kathleen E. Ackert (DO ’20) was also honored with the Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal*. This award is presented to a student for his or her outstanding achievement and service to the College, the community and the osteopathic profession. Ms. Ackert, who has made storytelling part of her medical education, plans to make it part of her medical practice when she starts her career as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Ms. Ackert spoke of the foundation she received throughout her education and thanked her parents and the teachers who had supported her from kindergarten through medical school. “It is an honor to give that recognition and support back to them today,” she said.

The PCOM Alumni Association Certificate of Honor was awarded to Monique A. Gary, DO ’09, for her on-going support of PCOM. Dr. Gary has served as a member of the PCOM Admissions Committee, as a clinical associate professor of surgery, and as a regular speaker and mentor to student organizations.

In her speech, Dr. Gary reminded the PCOM community of the importance of giving back even in the face of adversity. In a direct address to students she shared, “if you’re going to give, give, find a way. If you’re going to serve, serve, find a path.”

*Fellow Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal recipient Abdul A. Walters, MS/Biomed ’16 (DO ’20) will be honored at a ceremony in the spring at PCOM Georgia.

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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit or call 215-871-6100.

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