Brandon and Logan Hammond, members of the Class of 2013, and 2011 graduates Kerry and Kristy Fincher are planning to begin classes at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) this fall.
The Fincher sisters, from Easley, S.C., and the Hammond brothers, from Belmont, N.C., all biology majors, demonstrated dedication to their studies and a willingness to jump into campus life as undergraduates. Citing a desire to serve others as motivation for pursuing a medical career, they were drawn to osteopathy’s emphasis on providing care in rural and urban underserved areas.
Thanks for the mentoring
Adam Sanders ’10 is a medical education specialist at VCOM. “I didn’t have any part in the admission decisions, but as soon as I heard that they were admitted I made sure that I was the one who called them to share the good news,” he said. “The Hammonds were speechless. The Finchers just started screaming!”
Kerry and Kristy Fincher credit their advisors, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Al Mina and Professor of Biology Dr. David Ritland, along with the entire biology faculty and Professor of Psychology Dr. Robert Elsner, with encouraging them in their undergraduate years. Kerry adds Professor of Education Dr. Joanne Jumper to the list; Kristy adds Softball Coach Alleen Hawkins.
“They were always there to advise me and help me not only with academic concerns but with life concerns as well,” Kerry said. “I was so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful mentors to help me as I pursued my dreams!”
The Hammond twins, summa cum laude graduates, were inducted into Erskine’s Circle of Leaders. Brandon was president of the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa; his brother Logan served as vice president of the honor society Alpha Chi.
Dr. Al Mina, the Hammonds’ advisor, said, “Brandon and Logan were able to achieve that delicate balance of enriching their lives, serving others, and avoiding unnecessary distractions.”
The Fincher sisters, both honor graduates, were members of Gospel Choir, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. Kerry served as secretary of the Philomelean Women and Kristy as the society’s chaplain. They played softball for the Fleet and cheered Erskine athletes as members of the Fleet Fanatics. And that’s just a partial list.
So when did they have time to study? Like the Hammonds, they achieved that delicate balance.
“My experience at Erskine helped me learn the most efficient ways to study and how important a supportive community is,” Kristy said.
“As a student athlete for four years and a biology major, I had very limited time. Access to professors and student instructional sessions were key to helping me maintain my academic success.”
Focus and inspiration
Mina noted that the Hammonds had their eyes on medical school early on.
“From the time they arrived on campus as freshmen, they were highly focused on their goal of a career in medicine,” Mina said.
The Finchers followed a path of experiences that led them toward medical school and inspired them to pursue osteopathic medicine.
Working as a nurse’s aide, Kerry said, “opened my eyes to the healing power of osteopathic medicine,” as she observed osteopathic approaches “used to build my patients’ health until in-home care was no longer needed.”
Volunteer work and mission trips also fueled her “passion to … invest in the overall well-being of sick and hurting people.”
Osteopathic medicine emphasizes “the mind, body, and spirit and how all three contribute to a person’s overall health,” Kristy said.
“I am the kind of person who desires to have all the tools I can to help someone,” she added, referring to osteopathy’s year of residency in osteopathic manipulation, using the musculoskeletal system to treat, diagnose, and maintain health.
“Osteopathic medicine offers a more holistic approach to medical care, but still focuses largely on the traditional medicine most people are used to,” Mina said.
The school’s “primary goal,” Kerry said, “is to build and equip physicians to serve the community and underprivileged areas.”
A desire for service played a significant role in Kristy’s aspirations as well. She appreciates VCOM’s emphasis on teamwork in an atmosphere “structured to make their students successful once they enter the clinical setting.”
She looks forward to “medical mission opportunities with several sustainable medical outposts set up in El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic” offered by VCOM.
As a bonus, she later learned that Erskine graduate Dr. Ty Robinson ’96 is on VCOM’s faculty.
What they bring
Kerry and Kristy Fincher and Brandon and Logan Hammond carry their Erskine College experience with them. They all took challenging courses while engaging fully in campus life.
“Erskine provides that opportunity,” Mina said, “and they took full advantage of it.”
A medical school graduate himself, Mina believes the twins’ range of campus activities reveals they are well-rounded, “more likely to interact well with colleagues and patients” and “able to budget their time … essential for completing the rigorous course work ahead of them.”
For now, though, there is excitement for the Finchers and Hammonds and their families and friends. Breaking the news of the twins’ acceptance, Sanders said, was a “great moment for me to share that joy with them and celebrate Erskine and what it did for us to bring us to that moment.”