The MD/MPH Students at Senior Celebration
The MD/MPH Students at Senior Celebration

Class of 2022 Celebrated at Awards Luncheon

Chase Congleton
Chase Congleton
The MD/MPH Students at Senior Celebration
The MD/MPH Students at Senior Celebration
Students recognized for outstanding achievements in medical school

Connor Swenson delivers the Student Address at Senior Celebration
Connor Swenson delivers the Student Address at Senior Celebration
The annual Senior Celebration Awards Luncheon was hosted May 6 to recognize the outstanding work and achievements of the Class of 2022. The 72 graduating students were joined by faculty members and department chairs to celebrate their successes.

“We are all so excited… it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that you were first-year students,” Stephanie Briney, DO, associate dean of Student Affairs, said. “Today, we’re here to celebrate your accomplishments as you’ve traveled through the past four or five years.”

The luncheon began with a light-hearted speech given by Connor Swensen, MD, where he reflected on their time in medical school. He also told jokes about himself and the other students in good spirit.

“Really, guys, give yourselves a round of applause, you are three days away from graduating,” Swensen said. “Let’s just hope that the excitement of getting to post ‘doctor’ on your Instagram bio can hide the terror of your student loans that are about to kick in.”

Department Awards

Faculty from each clerkship department presented a third-year student with an award for outstanding performance during their clinical training. .

Family, Community and Preventive Medicine – Michelle Peterson, MD
Presented by Shahrzad Saririan, MD, Director of the Family Community and Preventive Medicine Clerkship

Michelle Peterson, MD, with Shahrzad Saririan, MD
Michelle Peterson, MD, with Shahrzad Saririan, MD
“This student performed exceptionally well in this clerkship, earning honors throughout,” Dr. Saririan said. “It quickly became obvious to anyone who worked with her that she has a soul of a family physician.”

Dr. Saririan further stated that Dr. Peterson understands her professional role to be a steward in the system. Dr. Peterson is also graduating with the Primary Care Scholars Certificate of Distinction.

Joseph Neely, MD, MPH, with Brenda Shinar, MD
Joseph Neely, MD, MPH, with Brenda Shinar, MD
Internal Medicine – Joseph Neely, MD, MPH
Presented by Brenda Shinar, MD, Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine

“He took the time to communicate updates to the family members of the patients at the end of the day when they were unable to visit,” Dr. Shinar said. “Every day on rounds, he was able to engage the team with new information and research overnight about his patients.”

According to Dr. Shinar, Dr. Neely also clarified medication reconciliation and was a joy to have on the team.

Kristina Yancey, MD, with Katie Brite Hillis, MD
Kristina Yancey, MD, with Katie Brite Hillis, MD
Neurology – Kristina Yancey, MD
Presented by
Katie Brite Hillis, MD, Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education

“This individual was a very welcome team member,” Dr. Brite Hillis said. “They are empathic, affable and a pleasure to teach, and they will excel as a resident.”

Dr. Brite Hillis also mentioned how she developed a close relationship with Dr. Yancey over the course of the four years and that Dr. Yancey’s daughter is evident every day in her mom’s actions, proving that anything is possible if you work hard and follow your dreams.

Michelle Arnold, MD, with Candice Wood, MD
Michelle Arnold, MD, with Candice Wood, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) – Michelle Arnold, MD
Presented by Candice Wood, MD, Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology

“Compassion, empathy and innate ability to connect with patients are what we always thought of in training,” Dr. Wood said. “But this person takes these qualities to the next level.”

Dr. Arnold demonstrated excellence in resource management and communication skills. She also maintained a calm attitude when teaching environments switched to virtual classes during the pandemic.

Alec Smith, MD, with Stewart Goldman, MD
Alec Smith, MD, with Stewart Goldman, MD
Pediatrics – Alec Smith, MD
Presented by
Stewart Goldman, MD, Chair of the Department of Child Health

“This is a learner whose presentation and organization went well, well above the level of training,” Dr. Goldman said. “This student is arguably one of the highest performing medical students we’ve had in recent years.”

Dr. Goldman added that Dr. Smith took time to read about patients and demonstrated excellent bedside manner.

Robert Yang, MD, with Scott Grogan, MD
Robert Yang, MD, with Scott Grogan, MD
Psychiatry – Robert Yang, MD
Presented by Scott Grogan, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor in Psychiatry

“[Dr. Yang’s] professionalism, empathy and work ethic were outstanding,” Dr. Grogan said. “I suspect there were probably some good stories that came from the time [Dr. Yang] spent with our department.

In addition to his outstanding academic accomplishments, Dr. Yang also has an impressive record of community service and leadership. He has matched with the Psychiatry Residency program at the University of College of Medicine – Phoenix.

Connor Clay, MD
Connor Clay, MD
Surgery – Conner Clay, MD
Presented by Natasha Keric, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery

The Surgery Clerkship award is typically given to a student who performs well on clinical rotations, embodies an enthusiastic spirit and takes every opportunity to learn during their rotations.

Dr. Keric said Dr. Clay stood out for his maturity, tenacity and, particularly, for his ability to administer great patient care. She said every resident and attendee was impressed by his attention to detail and that Dr. Clay was always eager to learn more.

“This person will be continuing their surgery career at UCLA,” Dr. Keric said. “Although he’ll be in Hollywood, he’s going to be a real doctor and not just playing one on TV.”

Pillar Awards

The Pillar Awards recognize students who have demonstrated exemplary performance in the areas that are considered pillars at the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. These awards are chosen by the Senior Celebration Honors and Awards Committee.

Julie Tran, MD, with Stephanie Briney, DO
Julie Tran, MD, with Stephanie Briney, DO
Community Award – Julie Tran, MD
Presented by
Stephanie Briney, DO, Director of Service Learning in Academic Affairs

The student selected for this pillar exhibits unparalleled commitment to, and positive effect on, the community.

Dr. Briney said Julie Tran won her award for her incredible service dedicated to her community. Tran has served as a co-leader for several programs and has demonstrated joy in volunteering for others.

“Her altruism and compassion for community service truly are exemplary,” Dr. Briney said. “I have no doubt that she will continue to serve as a leader in her community by holding her knowledge, skills and kindness toward helping others.”

Amanda Tijitro, MD, with Susan Kaib, MD
Amanda Tijitro, MD, with Susan Kaib, MD
Leonard Tow Humanism Award – Amanda Tijitro, MD
Presented by
Susan Kaib, MD

The award is presented to the student who best demonstrates the ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, respect for patients, their families and health care colleagues, as well as demonstrated clinical excellence.

“This individual was raised in a community where caring for others was a way of life,” Dr. Kaib said. “This shows in everything this individual does, and it is a central part of her character.”

Dr. Kaib added that while she’s always impressed by the incredible achievements of each graduating class, Dr. Tijitro served more than 200 hours caring for underserved communities and was very involved in helping Gold Humanism Honor Society members.

Hamed Alattar, MD, with Dean Guy Reed, MD, MS
Hamed Alattar, MD, with Dean Guy Reed, MD, MS
Leadership Award – Hamed Alattar, MD
Presented by
Guy Reed, MD, MS, Dean

This honor is awarded to a student who has made a profound impact on and off campus, both as a medical student and community leader.

“The student possesses qualities and characteristics of a role model and a mentor,” Dean Reed said. “He leads with honesty and integrity and inspires confidence.”

Leadership from Dr. Alattar can be defined by campus involvement, dedication to the professional atmosphere and participation in national organizations.

Luke Wohlford, MD, with Dr. Brite Hillis
Luke Wohlford, MD, with Dr. Brite Hillis
Scholarship Award – Luke Wohlford, MD, MPH
Presented by Katie Brite Hillis, MD, Associate Dean of Clinical and Competency Based Education

The Pillar of Scholarship is given to a student who has demonstrated an outstanding academic performance during his or her medical school career.

“This year’s recipient has demonstrated all of the above criteria at the highest levels,” Dr. Brite Hillis said.

Dr. Wohlford served as vice president of the college’s Student Government during his first and second year, was a co-leader for the emergency medical services and legislative advocacy groups and will be training at the University of Vermont for emergency medicine.

Certificates of Distinction and Dual Degrees

Certificate of Distinction in Service and Community Health
Presented by Stephanie Briney, DO, Director of Service Learning in Academic Affairs

The Service and Community Health COD Students

“You all demonstrated an admirable commitment to caring for underserved populations,” Dr. Briney said. “I know you will continue to seek out opportunities to look after patients and communities under compassion and care.”

Recipients included:

  • Nour Bundogji, MD.
  • Stephanie Christensen, MD.
  • Allen Doan, MD, MPH.
  • Alexandra Meilech, MD.
  • Diep Nguyen, MD.
  • Amanda Tjitro, MD.
  • Julie Tran, MD.
  • Alyson Tukan, MD.
  • Valeria Vasquez, MD.
  • Kristina Yancey, MD.

Certificate of Distinction in Rural Health
Presented by Jonathan Cartsonis, MD, Director of the Rural Health Professions Program

The Rural Health COD Students

“The Rural Certificate of Distinction requirements include completing several months of rural rotations… participating in rural seminars and writing a reflection paper,” Dr. Cartsonis said. “All of today’s recipients went above and beyond.”

Recipients included:

  • Charlotte Archuleta, MD.
  • Melanie Schroeder, MD.
  • Corinne Maryssa Spires, MD.
  • Celina Virgen, MD, MPH.
  • Luke Wohlford, MD, MPH.

Certificate of Distinction in Primary Care
Presented by Shahrzad Saririan, MD, Director of the Primary Care Scholars COD

Primary Care Scholars COD Students

“We have an outstanding group of eight students graduating from this new program,” Dr. Saririan said. “They have been true leaders in primary care on campus, in the community and beyond.”

Recipients included:

  • Tyler Bien, MD.
  • Anthony Conforti, MD.
  • Merrion Dawson, MD.
  • Claire Grayson, MD.
  • Kelly Habib, MD.
  • Amir Kaboodrangi, MD, MPH.
  • Michelle Peterson, MD.
  • Alec Smith, MD.

Certificate of Distinction of Health Humanities
Presented by Jennifer Hartmark-Hill, MD, FAAFP, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanism

Health Humanities COD Students

This award goes to students who demonstrated skills in the integration of the arts and humanities in medical education and patient care.

“It’s been an absolute joy to see these two new physicians grow and share their very wise perspectives,” Dr. Hartmark-Hill said.

Recipients included:

  • Michelle Arnold, MD.
  • Julia Ghering, MD.

Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (MD/MPH)
Presented by Marvin Moe Bell, MD, MPH, Director of the MD/MPH Program

“These students are really well positioned to address ongoing and future public health challenges,” Dr. Bell said. “I’m humbled by their altruism commitment.”

Recipients included:

  • Hong Chen, MD, MPH.
  • Allen Doan, MD, MPH.
  • Allison Hansen, MD, MPH.
  • Amir Kaboordrangi, MD, MPH.
  • Haley Kiernan, MD, MPH.
  • Brenna McElenney, MD, MPH.
  • Joseph Neely, MD, MPH.
  • Mary Beth Putz, MD, MPH.
  • Kyle Roe, MD, MPH.
  • Monica Sadhu, MD, MPH.
  • Patrick Sarette, MD, MPH.
  • Meghan Sluga, MD, MPH.
  • Blake Traube, MD, MPH.
  • Celina Virgen, MD, MPH.
  • Luke Wohlford, MD, MPH.

Additional Awards

The John Mattox, MD, Award

Allen Doan, MD, MPH, with Dean Reed
Allen Doan, MD, MPH, with Dean Reed
In recognition of academic excellence and dedication to women’s issues in Obstetrics and Gynecology:

  • Allen Doan, MD, MPH.

Longitudinal Clerkship Award

In recognition of outstanding work and excellence during training and clerkship:

  • Luke Wohlford, MD, MPH.

Prestigious Public Health Award

In recognition of excellence in distributing vaccinations and testing centers. Award granted by the United States Public Health Services and nominated by fellow classmates:

  • Patrick Sarette, MD, MPH.

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 669 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,600 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, 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.