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Biology alumna continues her family’s legacy of service to country by commissioning in the U.S. Navy as a physician assistant

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rodney Yetter has always been proud of his family’s record of service to God and country. His own father engaged the enemy during World War II and his brother was aboard the USS Boston during the historic Cuban Missile Crisis as members of the U.S. Navy.

This particular day, though, was different for the Parachute Rigging School graduate. Some 45years after he initially put his boots on the ground at Fort Jackson, S.C., to prepare to ship off to DaNang, Vietnam, as a member of the 1st Marine Airwing Division, he returned to the U.S. Army installation near Columbia, S.C. Unlike last time, though, he was not the one deploying to war – it was his daughter, Lt. Megan (Yetter) Challacombe ’09, PA-C, MSC, USN. ͞

He is always very open and proud about his service,’’ says Lt. Challacombe, whose maternal great grandfather and paternal uncle also fought in World War II and Vietnam as members of the U.S. Army. ͞That really stuck with me that my dad and I trained at the same area prior to deploying to a combat zone.’’ Service is a prominent characteristic of the Yetter and Snyder families. For the better part of the last 70 years, their family members have been involved in historic conflicts and wars from the Europeantheatre to the mountains of Afghanistan. It is also the main reason the Misericordia University graduate chose to commission in the U.S. Navy shortly after completing graduate school and becoming a physician assistant in 2012. ͞While I was growing up, it was always fascinating to me knowing that my family members served,’’ says Lt.

Challacombe, who received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology with minors in chemistry and English. ͞That sacrifice always remained really close to my heart. I knew someday I would want to serve my country.’’ Deciding upon what branch of the military was easy for Lt. Challacombe, as ͞Navy Medicine takes care of Sailors and Marines,’’ she says. Commissioning also provides for a well-rounded experience, as she has the opportunity to practice medicine in clinic, combat, rural, military hospital, and ship settings. ͞It is an absolute honor to be able to serve my country and keep servicemembers healthy to be able to do the same,’’ she adds. ͞Each day going to work, it is a reminder of the sacrifices servicemembers make to keep our country free. I feel proud serving this great nation.’’ Her military missions have taken Lt. Challacombe to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii inpeacetime, to the ongoing battlefields of Afghanistan, and on board the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN75) aircraft carrier in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. During her service, she has cared for active duty members, military retirees, and military dependents at a family practice military clinic, as well as active duty members in a combat zone and stationed aboard the ship. ͞When I was deployed in Afghanistan, I was part of a Role II Forward Surgical Team that was the first echelon of surgical care from the battlefield,’’ says Lt.

Challacombe, who was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. ͞My team saw traumatic patients with multiple injuries. It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to save lives. As a medical provider, each and every day servicemembers trust their health care to me, and it is a constant reminder of how much I love my job and the patient population I take care of.’’ Family deserves most of the credit for instilling a sense of service in Lt. Challacombe, but it did not hurt that their ideals complemented the mission of her alma mater. ͞When I think of Misericordia, I think of love of education and love of people, both of which are needed working in medicine,’’ says Lt. Challacombe, who married William Challacombe ’09 in 2011. ͞

Medicine is always changing so constant education is key and, of course, you have to have a love for people to work in medicine. The values from Misericordia I still utilize.’’ She credits a lot of the success she has enjoyed as a health care professional and military officer to the personalized attention she received from faculty members who are experts in their field of study. ͞I loved my time in college and am so happy that I chose to get my degree from Misericordia,’’ says the Saylorsburg, Pa., native. ͞The small class sizes provided a more one-on-one class atmosphere, which allowed for more learning opportunities. The professors cared about your success and the biology department was like a family. ͞

The classroom environment elicited critical thinking and problem solving, which are great attributes in succeeding in graduate school, life, and the military. The openness to ask questions to professors and opportunities for research projects created a great learning environment.’’In December, Lt. Challacombe received a new assignment to Naval Branch Health Clinic in Everett, Wash. With her military contract running through November 2019, she is excited for every new adventure and opportunity that presents itself.

“My Misericordia education was the foundation to my educational career and propelled me to wanting to go to physician assistant school to work in medicine and overall make a difference,’’ she says. ͞My professors loved what they were teaching and I think that was the best part of my Misericordia education because it made learning interesting and unforgettable.”