Seven amazing 2013 graduates showcase Ohio State’s seven unmatched health sciences colleges

By Kathy Baird  

In their free time, they may be found winning a bodybuilding competition, biking cross-country for charity, or solving Sudoku puzzles.

Professionally, they may be providing charity treatment for other continents, exploring the health of farm-raised fish, or even studying the mechanics of dental implants.

They represent seven outstanding spring 2013 Ohio State graduates, one from each of the health sciences colleges. Each graduate showcases the deep and broad range of interests and opportunities found on Ohio State’s one-of-a-kind health sciences campus.

Ohio State includes the colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine, making it the only campus in the country to combine seven health sciences colleges and a comprehensive medical center.

These seven selected graduates’ stories provide an inside look at their seven colleges’ combined impact.

Prizing Fitness- Samantha Bossert, BSN, College of Nursing

Knowing that fitness and health are closely linked, Samantha Bossert leads the quest for wellness by example. Bossert, a graduate from the College of Nursing , is a former personal trainer who closely monitors her own diet and exercise to compete in major fitness shows such as The Arnold Classic held in Columbus.

A veteran of six such shows over the past two years, Bossert won first place in her division last year at the National Physique Committee Natural Eastern USA Championship in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“Competition is an opportunity for me to see what I can do with my body and see myself at an optimum state of health,” Bossert said.Sami Bossert

She hopes to share this knowledge of fitness and health with future patients as she pursues her nursing career in the Columbus area.

Growing up Bossert participated in many sports. When she had a knee injury in basketball, she experienced the changes that weight lifting could produce.

Personal tragedy also intervened. When she was a high school freshman, her father, an orthopedic surgeon, was involved in a motorcycle accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. Initially, he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic, but extensive rehabilitation helped him regain much hand function.

“That really made me want to take another step towards health care,” Bossert said. “I realized nursing was definitely my calling.”

While not sure the precise direction her nursing career will take, Bossert especially enjoyed her training experience in labor and delivery.

“I love being a part of a family’s life when they’re bringing new life into the world,” she said.

Another interest area is women’s health, such as post-delivery wellness counseling when patients get started on an exercise plan.

 “If I can incorporate both my nursing education and degree with my passion for fitness and diet it will be fantastic,” she said.

Engineering Smiles- Joseph Pittman, DDS, College of Dentistry

For Joseph Pittman building smiles was a natural fit for his mechanical engineering background. Pittman is a recent Doctor of Dental Science graduate from the College of Dentistry and also holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State. Pittman said he sought out dentistry for its opportunities to work with people, work with his hands, and run his own business.

Pittman’s main focus has been research. He won first place and second place Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research from the College of Dentistry in two successive years, and presented his winning research at dental conferences across the country.

While working under the direction of Do-Gyoon Kim, PhD, assistant professor of orthodontics, he conducted a study on dental mini-implant stability based on bone density. He also gained practical experience while interning for Procter & Gamble. There, he did research on cold remedy formulations and conducted consumer research interviews about toothpaste.

Community service has also been an ongoing commitment for Pittman. He volunteered in villages surrounding Kampala, Uganda where he worked without electricity for six days to do extractions for people without regular access to dental care.  Currently, he volunteers monthly to provide dental care at a free clinic for underserved patients in Columbus.

This summer Pittman will volunteer for two months at a dental clinic in Cuzco, Peru. Next fall he will enter a three-year orthodontics master’s degree program at the University of North Carolina, where he will combine his mechanical abilities with his dentistry skills.

Blazing new trails- Eliza Beal, MD, College of Medicine

Blazing trails is nothing new for Eliza Beal, recent Doctor of Medicine graduate from the College of Medicine. In the weeks surrounding graduation, Beal is blazing a 3,400-mile bike ride across the country as CEO of Ride for World Health, a local non-profit founded and run by Ohio State medical students.

The trip, from March 20 to May 12, includes stops in 40 cities to conduct youth educational programs and raise funds for two overseas medical charities.

She also broke new ground during medical school when she created a new local chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School, which focuses on continuous improvement of medical processes for maximum patient safety.

In another pivotal experience this year, she spent four weeks at a private hospital in Zambia to provide corrective surgery for children with disabilities.

“There’s so much teamwork- opportunity to get involved with other students, students in other health professions, and students from all over the country,” Beal said.

Beal wants to combine her work in quality improvement to pursue a career in academic medicine.

“I’m interested in doing liver and kidney transplants,” she said. “Abdominal organ transplants have one of the greatest potential impact on the patient’s quality of life.”

This summer, Beal will take a major step toward those goals when she enters a six-year residency in general surgery at Wexner Medical Center.

Unfailing focus- Masoud Nafey, OD, College of Optometry

Hard work, commitment, and a love of people go hand-in-hand for Masoud Nafey, recent graduate from the College of Optometry.

Since childhood, Nafey said he knew he wanted to be a doctor.

“I wanted to focus on something that can always make a difference,” he said.

Nafey’s determination to succeed had early roots. He was born in Afghanistan the year the Soviets invaded his country. His parents, a biology teacher and businessman, had to leave everything, he said.

“My main motivation through life is my parents,” he said. “My parents sacrificed so much for me. That is why I pushed myself.”

At Ohio State, Nafey served as College of Optometry class president for all four years, working to help classmates succeed. On the patient side he did residencies at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Tucson, Ariz., and a laser surgery center in Oak Brook, Ill.. On a service trip to Bolivia, his group gave 1,000 eye exams in four days.

For his academic, professional, and extracurricular achievements, he received a national student award from the National Optometric Association and a statewide honor from the Ohio Optometric Foundation.

Now, with the completion of his professional studies, he plans to enter optometry practice in the northern California Bay Area, near his hometown.

“My first goal is to buy my parents a house, and then I’ll start worrying about myself,” he said. “For me, being an optometrist is a gift. This my opportunity to give the gift back.”

A new take on teaching- David Matthews, PharmD, College of Pharmacy

Teaching is a passion for David Matthews a recent graduate from the College of Pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Matthews holds a degree in education from Xavier University and taught sixth grade math and social studies for a year before entering pharmacy school.

This year he won the national championship at the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Patient Counseling Competition, where individual student pharmacists counsel a mock patient about a prescribed medication. He also co-chaired the committee of pharmacy students who work with the Central Ohio Poison Center to present the Be Poison Smart program in classrooms.

“Teaching comes in many different forms,” Matthews said. “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and wanted to teach from a very young age.”

Pharmacy also piqued his interest early. As a child watching his grandparents take multiple medications, he was interested in how those medications worked in the body.

This summer, Matthews will enter an Ohio State pharmacy residency, teaching in the College of Pharmacy while also doing clinical work and research. Even his clinical work will offer an opportunity for teaching as he counsels ambulatory care center patients about medications, recommends medications to physicians, and mentors pharmacy students.

“Education is where my passion is, and what I want to do with pharmacy ultimately is not just practice, but teach others,” he said. “It’s been great because I’ve been able to incorporate the best of both worlds, doing the teaching and the pharmacy together.”

Solving puzzles- Gary Klase, MS, College of Public Health

Gary Klase, a recent graduate from the College of Public Health with a Master of Science in Public Health, likes solving puzzles. Whether the challenge is a chemistry equation, Sudoku, or a public health issue, Klase said the solution process is much the same.

He said he takes stock of the various pieces, focuses on one section of the problem at a time, and draws on imagination to see how the various parts connect to create a full solution.

Klase’s main interest in public health is water. He worked as a lab assistant at Ohio State’s Stone Lab on Lake Erie and interned at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

“I like to be involved in research looking at the relationship between environmental sustainability and human health,” Klase said.

Klase also spent 10 weeks last summer in China as a visiting researcher working with a group from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He conducted a biological field survey in Chinese fishponds to investigate a human liver parasite that is transmitted by eating undercooked fish.

Klase may one day pursue an academic career, but right now he plans to put theory to work to solve environmental problems and improve public health. He said his main focus will be developing countries.

“If we can develop a low-energy solution there, we can use those ideas to reduce our energy costs,” he said. “It will have to be done in small pieces and by slowly putting the pieces together.”

That is just the kind of puzzle that Klase enjoys.

Deep insights into fish- Stephen Reichley, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine

Caring for animals took an unexpected turn for Stephen Reichley, recent graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Attracted by the investigative nature of veterinary medicine, Reichley first thought he would work with horses. However, after an in-class mention of aquaculture, his career interests went in a new direction.

Reichley arranged an internship with the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Aquaculture Department and worked with Ohio fish farmers to learn about their operations and challenges. Later internships took him across the United States and the world.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about fish,” Reichley said. “There are diseases for which we don’t know the cause. There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Reichley said we need to help the commercial herd of fish since they are so valuable to diets, but we also need to note the effects that we have on the wild populations.

With such interests in mind, Reichley will soon enter Mississippi State University to pursue a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medical Science with a focus on Aquatic Animal Medicine and Epidemiology, and will also serve as a graduate research assistant and clinical instructor. Then he hopes to do government or nonprofit work, possibly in the regulatory area.

“As the ultimate goal, I want to do international work, whether for a U.S. government organization, for an intergovernmental agency, or in the private sector,” Reichley said.