Class of 2023 Celebrated at Awards Luncheon
On May 5, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix hosted the Senior Celebration Awards Luncheon to recognize the accomplishments of the Class of 2023. More than 70 graduating students were joined by faculty members and department chairs to celebrate their successes.
“Many in this class will stay connected forever and many in lifelong friendships,” Stephanie Briney, DO, associate dean of Student Affairs, said. “Today, we are here to celebrate this class’s accomplishments as they traveled through the four years.”
The luncheon began with a reflective and light-hearted speech given by John Michael Sherman, MD, where he offered some jokes to his fellow classmates, but also reassured them of their success.
“We are now entering an exclusive fraternity of people who’ve dedicated their lives to serving others through medicine,” Dr. Sherman said. “You should feel incredibly prideful for having joined that club, and I’m proud to have gotten to know each and every one of you.”
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 – Austin Cotter, MD
Presented by Shahrzad Saririan, MD, MPH, director of the Family, Community and Preventive Medicine (FCPM) Clerkship
“This student performed exceptionally well during his FCPM clerkship, earning honors throughout,” Dr. Saririan said. “Above all, he stood out amongst his peers for seeking to understand and mitigate the social determinants of health and by bringing his authentic self and fierce advocacy to each clinical encounter.”
According to Dr. Saririan, Dr. Cotter is a national leader who inspires others, creates a shared mission and fosters diversity and inclusion.
Internal Medicine – Nicole Boardman, MD
Presented by Christina Bergin, MD, clinical professor in Internal Medicine
“This student was selected for a number of reasons,” Dr. Bergin said. “She consistently went above and beyond to review the literature and provide the best possible care for her patients.”
Dr. Boardman was credited with being an exceptional member of the team and was incredibly valued for providing care for her patients.
Neurology – Tamara Sleem, MD, MPH
Presented by Daniel Fayard, MD, co-director of the Neurology Clerkship
“I didn’t have the pleasure of working with this student personally,” Dr. Fayard said. “However, everyone I asked, their experience with her was glowing. She was fantastic and a rock star.”
Dr. Fayard also mentioned a time when Dr. Sleem recognized symptoms of a patient’s condition that residents and senior staff had not seen.
Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) – Elizabeth “Lizzy” Mangone, MD
Presented by Katie Brite, MD, associate dean of Clinical and Competency Based Education
“The recipient of this award is a diligent, careful and committed learner,” Dr. Brite said. “She shows insight and reflection while identifying areas in which she hopes to improve.
Dr. Brite said that whenever Dr. Mangone volunteers for a task, there is no doubt that it will be done with excellence.
Pediatrics – Naim Duran, MD
Presented by Jorge Masuello, MD, director of the Pediatrics Clerkship
“This student exhibited excellent medical knowledge and independently sought feedback and responded well to feedback given,” Dr. Masuello said. “Not only did he demonstrate excellent bedside manners, but several families commended how well he behaved when with children.”
Dr. Masuello also said that Dr. Duran was an enthusiastic self-directed learner; and other faculty members commented that Dr. Duran was one of the highest performing medical students the school has had in recent years.
Psychiatry – Tony Duong, MD
Presented by Scott Grogan, MD, director of the Psychiatry Clerkship
“Our selection for this year’s award really performed superbly in all aspects of the clerkship,” Dr. Grogan said. “As the psychiatry clerkship progressed, certain strengths began to shine.”
Dr. Duong originally had his heart set on a different specialty but had an open mind and began to excel in psychiatry with his strong communication skills, medical knowledge and compassion.
Surgery – Samantha Vedula, MD
Presented by Priya Rajdev, MD, co-director of the Surgery Clerkship
“Our award focuses on one particular student who really excelled during the third-year clerkship,” Dr. Rajdev said. “We had an incredible roster of folks this year, but this student stood out for her maturity, kindness, curiosity, dedication and enthusiasm.”
Dr. Rajdev also said that Dr. Vedula took on responsibilities without any prompting and was clearly engaged in the welfare of all her patients.
The Pillar Awards recognize students who have demonstrated exemplary performance in areas that are considered pillars at the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. These awards are chosen by the Senior Celebration Honors and Awards Committee.
The Gerald L. Wissink Pillar of Community Award – Briana Corkill, MD
Presented by Kareem Raad, MD, director of Community Health Initiatives – Phoenix and Jesselyn Gaona, MD, assistant clinical professor of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine, with Gerald L. Wissink.
This Pillar Award goes to a student who exhibits unparalleled commitment to and positive effect on the community.
“Our award winner won out over other candidates because she has shown a consistent and one of the strongest commitments to Wesley Clinic over all four years,” Dr. Gaona said. “I’m confident that she will continue to serve our underserved community in the coming years.”
Dr. Corkill is a strong member of the patient care team and always displayed compassion and respect for her patients.
Stuart D. Flynn, MD, Pillar of Leadership Award – Abel De Castro, 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 a community leader.
“While we wish we could keep this student here at the College of Medicine – Phoenix for many years to come, we realize that we have to share him at least transiently with the rest of the world,” Dean Reed said.
Among Dr. De Castro’s leadership roles, he was co-lead and research coordinator for Street Medicine Phoenix, led collaborative efforts between the college, Arizona State University and Maricopa County Department of Public Health and served as a student member of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award – Nisha Rehman, MD
Presented by Elaine Niggemann, MD
This award is presented to a 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.
“Leonard Tao is a philanthropist who recognized the value of humanism in medicine,” Dr. Niggemann said. “This year’s recipient has humanistic qualities that were recognized even in the applicant review process.”
In the short 10-minute interview, Dr. Rehman was described as “passionate, a strong communicator, personable, and had an appreciation for the world beyond her own experience.” These traits were carried over during her time in medical school.
Robert E. Kravetz, MD, Pillar of Scholarship Award – Nicole Boardman, MD
Presented by Irene Alexandraki, MD, senior associate dean of Academic Affairs
The Pillar of Scholarship is given to a student who has a demonstrated an outstanding academic performance during his or her medical school career.
“This award goes to a student who has demonstrated an outstanding performance of academic excellence across the board,” Dr. Alexandraki said. “This year’s award goes to a student who really exemplified academic excellence in various aspects of academia.”
Dr. Boardman has been inducted to the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health while also doing a lot of tutoring, sharing her knowledge with her peers.
Certificates of Distinction and Dual Degrees
Certificate of Distinction in Primary Care
Presented by Dr. Shahrzad Saririan
“These students helped us get the program going from ground up and have served as mentors to other students in the program,” Dr. Saririan said. “They have been true leaders in primary care during the pandemic, in the community and beyond.”
- Austin Cotter, MD.
- Leeann Qubain, MD.
- Amaris Tapia, MD.
- Deborah Yang, MD.
Certificate of Distinction in Service & Community Health
Presented by Kareem Raad, MD, and Jesselyn Gaona, MD
“I can tell you without reservation that we are all really proud of everything you’ve accomplished these four years in meeting the requirements, which demonstrates your commitment to serving the most vulnerable members of our community,” Dr. Raad said.
- Majd Aboona, MD.
- Briana Corkill, MD.
- Alexandria Daggett, MD.
- Sabrina Dahak, MD.
- Abel De Castro, MD.
- Kyle Kilian, MD.
- Brittani Miller, MD.
- Mackenzie Oleksak, MD.
- Nisha Rehman, MD.
- Abigail Solorio, MD.
Certificate of Distinction in Global Health
Presented by David Beyda, MD, director of the Global Health Certificate of Distinction
“It’s my distinct pleasure and honor to, through this period of COVID-19, award these students the Certificate of Distinction in Global Health,” Dr. Beyda said. “May they continue to serve as advocates and professionals,” for those in underdeveloped countries.
- Matthew Campanella, MD.
- Alina Martinez, MD.
- Tina Samsamshariat, MD.
- Neeraj Vij, MD.
Certificate of Distinction in Rural Health
Presented by Jonathan Cartsonis, MD, director of the Rural Health Professions Program
“Congratulations to all of you — record number of students went to rural communities in Arizona and New Mexico, more than any other class,” Dr. Cartsonis said. “But, right now, I’d like to announce the Rural Certificate of Distinction recipients to five graduates who met and exceeded expectations.”
- Brittany Begaye, MD.
- Brennan Enright, MD.
- Fathima Haseefa, MD, MPH.
- Caitlin Parke, MD.
- Dallin Stevens, MD.
Certificate of Distinction in Health Humanities
Presented by Jennifer Hartmark-Hill, MD, FAAFP, director for the Health Humanities Program
This award is given to students who demonstrated skills in the integration of the arts and humanities in medical education and patient care.
“There are so many things that Katherine and Dara have done that have really enhanced this campus, the community and our culture,” Dr. Hartmark-Hill said. “I just wanted to say thank you to them.”
- Katherine Bracamontes, MD.
- Dara Farhadi, MD.
Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (MD/MPH)
Presented by Doug Campos-Outcalt, MD, MPA, director of the MD/MPH Program
- Fathima Haseefa, MD, MPH.
- Rebia Khan, MD, MPH.
- Elizabeth Khan, MD, MPH.
- Tamara Sleem, MD, MPH.
The John Mattox, MD, Award
In recognition of academic excellence and dedication to women’s issues in OB/GYN:
- Brittani Miller, MD.
Longitudinal Clerkship Award
In recognition of outstanding work and excellence during training and clerkship:
- Amaris Tapia, MD.
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 more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 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.