Behind-the-Scenes: Dean Reed Records His Remarks Prior to the Virtual Commencement Ceremony
Behind-the-Scenes: Dean Reed Records His Remarks Prior to the Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Campus Community Comes Together to Create the College’s First Virtual Graduation Ceremony

Lindsay Roberts
Lindsay Roberts
Behind-the-Scenes: Dean Reed Records His Remarks Prior to the Virtual Commencement Ceremony
Behind-the-Scenes: Dean Reed Records His Remarks Prior to the Virtual Commencement Ceremony
The Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Schools to Rethink Traditional Commencement Ceremonies and Go Virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic, has forced universities to postpone and cancel major academic events, including events like Match Day and graduation.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix wanted to ensure that the campus and Phoenix community celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2020, as they bravely enter the medical profession during this time.

Class of 2020 Student Speaker Zana Alattar Records Her Address
Class of 2020 Student Speaker Zana Alattar Records Her Address
For the first time in the college’s history, the medical school will host this year’s commencement via Zoom for its 93 graduates. The event, which will be on May 11 at 3:30 p.m., will feature the mainstays of commencement — including speeches from Zana Alattar, who was selected by her classmates to provide the student address; Guy Reed, MD, MS, dean of the College of Medicine – Phoenix; Robert C. Robbins, MD, University of Arizona president; and Cara Christ, MD, MS, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The ceremony will also feature words of support from faculty and staff, as well as a hooding ceremony. Students will be hooded by their family or friends before taking their oath.

“For students, commencement marks the end of their medical school journey, and the beginning of their lives as doctors. It is the culmination of years’ worth of focused study and work,” Beth Smith, interim senior director of Marketing and Communication said. “Although we weren’t able to celebrate in the traditional way, we wanted to make sure our fourth-year medical students had the proper send off before they enter the medical profession.”

The departments of Student Affairs, Classroom Instruction and Marketing and Communications worked tirelessly to create a dynamic celebration for the Class of 2020 and their families. The departments worked together to ensure major day-of events could still be possible — like Senior Celebration, where graduating students are recognized for their achievements and hard-work over the last four years.

Prior to the event, the college’s media productions team recorded speeches from commencement speakers. The Marketing and Communications team drafted graphics, posted radio spots, invited media and published various stories for the event. Throughout the planning process, the Student Affairs’ team communicated with graduates to get their input and keep them informed. The campus community was invited to say words of encouragement to graduating students. The team also secured the bagpipers, who recorded a special tribute to the Class of 2020. The day-of celebration will also include a few more surprises.

This isn’t the first important milestone these students were forced to experience virtually due to the coronavirus. On Friday, March 20, fourth-year medical students discovered virtually where they would spend the next three to seven years in residency. Although the Match Day event was no longer in-person, students were still able to enjoy the day with the campus community.

“I loved Match Day in the virtual setting,” fourth-year medical student Melissa Reed said. “While I wish we could have had a big party on campus, this was the best option given the coronavirus outbreak. I’m so grateful to our deans, the staff and everyone who had a part in making this a truly memorable and special event, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 593 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,400 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.