LANSING — Ben Edwards and Jake Peacock graduated together in 2006. They graduated together again in 2009. And now, once again, they graduated together on Saturday, this time receiving their doctor of medicine degrees.
The two 24-year-olds — who are the sons of Greenville residents Steve and Ruthanne Edwards, and Robert and Patrice Peacock — were among the students who graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, with their Greenville families right there, cheering them on.
“We’ve definitely given a lot of money to MSU!” joked Edwards, who, with his wife Emily, will now move to Asheville, N.C., where he will begin a three-year residency. “But it is worth it. I consider myself a very fortunate person.”
The two men met as childhood playmates where they attended kindergarten together at Baldwin Heights Elementary School. The friendship continued even when the Edwards family moved to a different neighborhood.
Growing up, the boys played peewee sports together. In high school they were on the freshmen and junior varsity basketball teams and ran cross country and track together. They were in National Honor Society and Science Olympiad.
Both were top academic students when they graduated from Greenville High School in 2006 and both were college-bound. Peacock, whose father is a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist and mother is a registered nurse, planned to go into medicine as well. Peacock graduated from Michigan State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in science, with an emphasis on bioethics.
Edwards, whose father is a veterinarian and whose mother is employed by Greenville Public Schools, took a different route. He earned his bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife, leaning toward animal medicine. But a volunteer stint in a Lansing hospital convinced him human medicine was the route to take.
The two men went on to complete four years of clinicals, earning their medical degree.
“The first two years of clinical were academic coursework,” Peacock said. “The next two is where we did clinical rotations in hospitals. The rotations include participating in different specialties where you can see what everyone does. You get to see the real nuts and bolts of each kind of areas of medicine.”
That experience is leading Peacock to continue on to a four-year residency at New York University Hospital where he will be treating patients with neomuscular issues secondary to spinal cord or brain injuries.
“I will see a variety of patients, everyone from the younger patients who have injuries from diving into a shallow pool to elderly stroke victims,” said Peacock. “It will be a wide variety of patients.”
The residency procedure was grueling, with only 300 spots available throughout the United States, according to Peacock.
“There is a long application and interviews. I interviewed with places from California to places on the East Coast. I chose New York, which was at the top of my list, because of the better opportunities in the city than other clinical,” Peacock said.
Edwards explained the process as an advanced computerized system that matches applicants to positions.
“We interview, then rank which programs we want to get into. The computer then takes data from the interviews and ranks how the candidates did. Matching the two up, it places us,” Edwards said. “Asheville was my first choice, and I got it.”
While in Asheville, Edwards will work for three years at Mission Hospital Health and Education Center, focusing on primary care as a family doctor.
“I will see everyone from babies to women in pregnancy to geriatrics and elder care, pretty much a little of everything,” said Edwards, adding some days he will also do internal medicine work and surgeries, “Three years from now I can open my own practice. That is scary, but I know after the three-year residency, I will be ready to sprout wings.”
Though the two are now taking different routes, Edwards says they both may eventually end up back in Michigan.
“I spent my past two years in Traverse City, and was everywhere from Ludington to Alpena,” he said. “I have a feeling we both may end up back in this area, closer to home. Part of why I chose family medicine is because of the influence from Dr. Tovatt in Greenville, where you get to know and treat the entire family. I eventually want to do something like that.”
“I think Ben and I both agree that we were very fortunate to get the opportunities we had in our education at Greenville High School and at Michigan State University,” agreed Peacock. “They are both top-notch institutions.”
“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, but also have set goals and worked hard. It has really gone pretty fast, and has been a fun ride,” Edwards said. “I hope in some way, some other Greenville student can see how far Jake and I have come, and be inspired.”