A big dream came true for 14 pioneering young men and women who will graduate on Monday, June 24, from Ilocos Norte’s first medical school established by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) on June 16, 2015.

The exciting ceremony to be held at the university’s Teatro Ilocandia as for setting the first milestone for MMSU’s College of Medicine (COM) with high ranking provincial officials invited to the affair.

Addressing the graduates is Dr. Jose Y. Cueto Jr., former dean of the COM, who is now the concurrent Commissioner of the Professional Regulation Commission.

The event will start at 7 a.m. at the University Hostel with a lecture-forum to be delivered by Dr. Maria Lourdes Garcia, professor of Communications at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines; and Dr. Zoraida Leopando, professor emeritus from University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila.

After this, the graduates, MMSU officials, and other guests will proceed to Teatro Ilocandia for the Baccalaureate Service and Recognition Rites and White Coat Ceremony.

The grand commencement rites will follow at 4 p.m., according to Dean Dr. Ricardo Guanzon who said that of the 14 graduates, six finished the pre-medicine courses from MMSU, two each from the UP in Baguio and Los Baños in Laguna, and one each from the Divine Word College of Laoag, Lorma Colleges and Union Christian College (both in La Union), and St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur.

“The pioneer graduates were scholars of the Department of Health and the Commission on Higher Education,” he said, emphasizing that some of them, when they came in, were already scholars of the university as Latin honorees, while others filed for scholarship grants under the DOH and CHED.

“MMSU has played an important role in the studies of these scholars, because it is the main government agency that subsidized their education expenses,” Dr. Guanzon said.

In 2015, the first medical school in Ilocos Norte opened through former CHED Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan, who led the members of CHED en banc committee in approving it.

Then 17 freshmen, mostly graduates of MMSU have applied in the COM for school year 2015 – 2016.

This group now composed the first batch of the youngest medical school in the country for Class 2019.

Former MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua said the dream to establish the COM started in 1996 during the leadership of former MMSU President Elias L. Calacal but it was only in 2012 when the members of the Board of Regents approved its offering.

Dr. Pascua expressed gratefulness because this is the fulfillment of a dream nineteen years ago, saying that MMSU is now on the right track to produce good doctors who will address the shortage of medical practitioners in the country.

Earlier, members of the Regional Quality Assessment Team (RQAT), led by Drs. Kristal Mendoza and Pacita Apilado, visited the university in the early part of 2014 and endorsed to the CHED its formal opening in the first semester of 2014.

However, the plan did not materialize because some requirements have not been met. The CHED commission en banc further validated the RQAT’s endorsement and checked on the quality of the COM in terms of facilities and other needs. This is based on the policies, guidelines and standards set by the CHED. (PNA)