Penn State alumna Marina Mekheal speaks on the power of a Penn State story

The doctor of osteopathic medicine, who graduated from Penn State York in 2019 with a bachelor's in biology, is now serving as a resident in emergency medicine at WellSpan York Hospital.
Woman in regalia speaks at a podium.

Dr. Marina Mekheal took the podium at the spring 2024 commencement ceremony in the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center to deliver a message about the power of having a Penn State story.

Credit: Jess Price

YORK, Pa. — The spring 2024 commencement ceremony at Penn State York was held on the stage of the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center on campus the evening of May 3, with Dr. Marina Mekheal, osteopathic medicine, serving as keynote speaker.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Mekheal has called York her hometown since she was just 8 years old. She graduated from Penn State York in 2019 with a bachelor of science degree in biology, specializing in genetics and developmental biology. Today, she serves as a resident in emergency medicine at WellSpan York Hospital, where she takes care of a wide range of medical emergencies and is skilled in handling critical cases.  

The road to her achievements 

Throughout her time as an undergraduate student, Mekheal served many roles within Penn State York and the surrounding community. She participated in the Penn State York Honors Program, Graham Fellows Program for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and served as Lion Ambassador president during her senior year. In 2018, she received the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker award for exhibiting outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship. 

Mekheal credits some Penn State York faculty with contributing to her success. 

“Thanks to the wonderful support of all the faculty here, and I’ll mention a few — Dr. Landis, Dr. Vardo-Zalik and Dr. Petko — I graduated from Penn State York with an acceptance to medical school in my hand,” Mekheal said.  

Mekheal was accepted into medical school at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2019, where she served as president of the Emergency Medicine chapter before earning her doctorate degree in osteopathic medicine in 2023. 

As an undergraduate student at Penn State York, Mekheal published her research, titled, “Acute alcohol prevents the refeeding-induced decrease in autophagy but does not alter the increased protein synthetic response in heart,” in the journal Alcohol. According to Mekheal, the experience she gained through undergraduate research equipped her with skills that relate to her residency work. She said she plans to apply to a fellowship in critical care or medical toxicology in the near future. 

Advice for recent graduates 

At the graduation ceremony, Mekheal acknowledged the challenge of work-life balance, especially while pursuing a career path that’s motivated by passion. 

“You can’t give 100% of your efforts into every aspect of your life at every moment of every day,” she said, “but the skills that you learn within these walls and the passion that you have for your dreams will help you develop a healthy balance that is sustainable for life.” 

Mekheal also emphasized the value of being part of Penn State. 

“No dream is too big when you have a whole community supporting you and cheering you on,” said Mekheal. “Each one of us has a Penn State story; it’s not confined to these walls, and it doesn’t end when you leave this building today. It’s up to you to mold it into whatever you like. Your story might have moments in it where you feel stuck, or confused, or maybe even a little bored, but all your stories will be different in different ways. And the similarity is — we are all members of the Penn State community and you always will be. Wear that proudly.” 

For more information about Penn State York’s Spring 2024 commencement ceremony or to view the livestream recording, visit the commencement website.