“These guys and gals are going to save lives,” said John Sharp, Texas A&M chancellor.

Sharp spoke Saturday to a packed crowd at the first DeTar Healthcare System Family Medicine Residency graduation. The six graduates making up the inaugural class of the program at DeTar Hospital were joined by friends and family members who traveled from all over the world to celebrate their success.

The residency program is a partnership between the DeTar Healthcare System and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The collaboration was dreamed up in 2015 and became an official reality in 2016 when six physicians were accepted into the program. Since then, two more classes have been added to the residency, and the program has experienced a 100% medical board pass rate for its first round of graduates.

Among the graduates is Chike Ochieze, from Nigeria, who was elected as the first chief resident of the program. After completing medical school in Nigeria, Ochieze moved to Houston in 2011 to seek treatment for an eye disease, which he was later cured of. He saw an ad about the upcoming Victoria residency in 2015 and came to DeTar for a two-week trial rotation. Two weeks turned into four weeks, and four weeks turned into an offer to join the first residency class at the hospital, which Ochieze gladly accepted.

“It’s been a blessing. I’ve learned so much. It’s been a wonderful experience for me,” Ochieze said.

Ochieze describes the residency as “one of the best in the country” and looks forward to remaining in Victoria with his wife and children following graduation.

“Years ago, I could only dream of this, but it’s a reality now, and I’m glad I made it,” Ochieze said.

For Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp, getting involved with the launch of the medical residency at DeTar Hospital felt very full-circle.

“I was actually born in that hospital. I was delivered by Dr. DeTar,” Sharp said.

Sharp was instrumental in the early partnership between Texas A&M and DeTar Healthcare System, believing that the residency would have an astoundingly positive impact on the local community.

“There’s almost nothing better you can do for a community than make sure really great doctors are added to that community,” Sharp said.

The DeTar Healthcare System Family Medicine Residency will continue, and officials plan to expand the next class to eight residents.

Chamberlain Smith is a multimedia intern at the Victoria Advocate. Follow her on Instagram @chamberlainsmith.

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