PA students earn white coats at MSU-Meridian ceremony

Contact:  Lisa Sollie

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Mississippi State University-Meridian’s second cohort of 24 Physician Assistant Studies students earned their white coats during a ceremony at MSU’s Riley Center on Thursday [March 9].Mississippi State University-Meridian's second cohort of 24 Physician Assistant Studies program students earned their white coats during a ceremony at MSU-Meridian's Riley Center on Thursday [March 9] (photo by Mark Davis, Revere Photography)

“We are honored to recognize the achievement of these PA students who have successfully completed the didactic phase of the program and will now transition to the clinical phase where they will continue training to become compassionate healthcare providers for their communities,” said Shey Washburn, director of MSU-Meridian's Physician Assistant Studies program.

After receiving their coats, the students took the Pledge of Professionalism in Medicine, stating their commitment to adhere to the science and art of the practice of medicine. The cornerstones of this promise are sympathy, compassion and understanding of their patients. A total of 19 students received white coats last March as part of the first PA cohort.

“This ceremony marks the next step in our journey to become a physician assistant, and it is a celebration of all our hard work, dedication and perseverance throughout the didactic year,” said Ellis Armond of Pascagoula. “It is a privilege and great honor to receive this white coat alongside my classmates, and I am proud of everything our cohort has accomplished. I am also excited to see how we will each grow and use our talents to help serve the communities of Mississippi and surrounding areas in the years to come.”

Students now begin rotations in clinical areas including internal medicine, family medicine, behavioral health, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and women’s health. At the end of the rigorous clinical training, they will graduate in May 2024. They then will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam to become board certified to practice medicine in collaboration with licensed physicians.

“PA school is a challenge from the very first day, and the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to competently treat patients is a task that not many are suited to take on,” said Cedric Ruffin, MSU assistant clinical professor in the PA Studies program.  “These students, however, have put in the work and have now earned the right to wear their white coats. I am beyond proud of them and do not take lightly the privilege to have helped get them to this pivotal point in their matriculation. Mississippi needs them. The world needs them. And they are now one step closer to fulfilling those needs.”

As the state’s only publicly funded PA program, MSU-Meridian’s program in 2020 achieved Accreditation-Provisional status, the initial phase of accreditation for all new programs granted by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA.

MSU PA students earning a white coat include (by hometown):

BRANDON—Emily Bennett

CLINTON—Abbye Blackwell

COVINGTON, Louisiana—Lindsey Jenkins

DESTREHAN, Louisiana—Amanda Otillio

DONALDSONVILLE, Louisiana—Jamee Rogers

FRANKLINTON, Louisiana—Lauren Ackerman

FAYETTE—Rosheka Tenner

GRAMERCY, Louisiana—Hailey Detillier

GULFBREEZE, Florida—Adrianna Fuentealba

GULFPORT—Sheree Reed

HATTIESBURG—Kristen Martin and McKenzie Stansell

LOCKPORT, Louisiana—Courtney Dufrene

MADISON, Wisconsin—Jordan Black

METAIRIE, Louisiana—Shelbie Ford and Ashley Rutherford

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana—Gillian Sudderth



SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Ryan Collins

STARKE, Florida—Priscilla Smith


SULFUR, Louisiana—Alisha Dupree

TERRYTOWN, Louisiana—Lauren Laurent

Learn more about MSU-Meridian’s Physician Assistant Studies program at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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