SH residents among COMP-NW graduates

Audrey Caro

Two Sweet Home residents were among the 94 graduates at Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest’s graduation ceremony Friday, June 2, in Lebanon.

The two were Sarah Crow May and Russell Steffensen.

The COMP-NW commencement celebration, held in a giant tent outside Boulder Falls Inn, across from Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, was one of five Western University ceremonies, held at different locations last weekend, but with a common thread.

“Each of these celebrations includes what is perhaps the most meaningful feature of a Western U commencement – the hooding ceremony,” Richard Bond, a 1982 graduate of the first class and chairman of the Board of Trustee, told the Lebanon graduates.

Bond welcomed the 94 medical students who were awarded their doctorates in osteopathic medicine as part of COMP-NW’s third graduating class from the Lebanon campus.

“At our very first commencement, 35 years ago, we asked our graduates to designate a special person to formally place the academic hood on them after taking their diploma in hand,” Bond said. “The practice continues to this day.”

It is one of the ways WesternU honors the contributions and support of those who helped students reach their goals, he said.

May chose her parents, Michael and Christine Crowe.

“My parents are really good people,” said Crowe May, who will be known as Dr. Crowe. “They have a domestic violence intervention program and a drug and alcohol program. They’re both recovering addicts.”

Her parents have been clean for some 20 years, Crowe said, and her father is working towards his master’s degree so he can give private therapy.

“My mom already does private therapy and so they’re going to do specialized couples counseling where my mom will work with the female and my dad will work the male,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for my parents. They dug themselves out of a really deep hole. And they raised a daughter that’s going to be a doctor.”

Crowe, who is entering a threeyear family residency at Skagit Regional Health in Mount Vernon, Wash. plans to practice in Sweet Home, where her husband Alan grew up.

Russell Steffensen was hooded by his wife Stefanie, a kindergarten teacher at Oak Heights School.

Graduation from COMP-NW means the family is starting on the next leg of their journey, a move to Hinsdale, Ill. where Russell will complete his residency in family medicine at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. He and his dad left Sweet Home Sunday, driving two moving trucks, while Stefanie and their three children, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, finish out the school year.

He starts work June 19.

Russell worked in construction in Washington before pursuing a medical career, something he had always wanted to do.

He started the path to medical school with the thought of becoming a registered nurse, but Stefanie discovered he had been looking at medical school programs on his laptop.

“We’re not going to go back to school twice,” she told him. “Do what it is you want to do.”

At that point, she decided to go back to school too, to complete an administrator’s license at Concordia University.

They moved to Sweet Home from Washington in 2103 so he could attend COMP-NW. Stefani started teaching at Oak Heights that fall.

They balanced the demands of work, school and parenthood.

“One thing we didn’t want is for our children to suffer or resent (us going back to school),” Russell said.

Stefanie created a scrapbook of their journey – “Adventures Through Medical School.”

Medical school put intense demands on his time, but Russell believed it was important to be present for his family.

“My husband never lost sight that the most important thing is family,” Stefanie said. “He always kept me and the kids as his top priority. He was home most nights to put them to bed and for dinner.”