Friday, May 3, the Class of 2024 joined together at Senior Celebration to applaud those in their cohort who went the extra mile during their studies
Friday, May 3, the Class of 2024 joined together at Senior Celebration to applaud those in their cohort who went the extra mile during their studies

Senior Celebration Highlights the Accomplishments of the Class of 2024

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly
Friday, May 3, the Class of 2024 joined together at Senior Celebration to applaud those in their cohort who went the extra mile during their studies
Friday, May 3, the Class of 2024 joined together at Senior Celebration to applaud those in their cohort who went the extra mile during their studies
Members of the graduating class were recognized for their outstanding work across specialties and within extracurricular programs

For each graduating class at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, the journey to their medical degree is one that offers chances to explore areas of educational interest through diverse medical experiences.

Though difficult, it is a road that recognizes hard work, tenacity and the delivery of compassionate care. Friday, May 3, the Class of 2024 joined together at Senior Celebration to applaud those in their cohort who went the extra mile for their patients and to the communities they served.

Erik Garber, MD, delivers the student remarks
Erik Garber, MD, delivers the student remarks

“Over the past several years, we’ve observed professional growth, admired your determination and benefitted greatly from having you as a part of our campus community,” said Stephanie Briney, DO, the associate dean of Student Affairs.

Erik Garber, MD, was chosen by his peers to deliver the student remarks. He focused on the magnitude of their collective accomplishment in graduating from medical school and the collective effort it took to get there. “As this chapter comes to a close, we celebrate each other and all the people around us. We celebrate these structures you taught us and the patients who shared their stories and trusted us with their care,” he said. Those interactions, “reminded us of the profound impact that we can make.”

Clinical Department Awards

Faculty from each clerkship department presented an award for outstanding performance during their clinical training in the students’ third year.

Family, Community and Preventive Medicine – Elen Mendoza, MD

Presented by Shahrzad Saririan, MD, MPH, director of the Family, Community and Preventive Medicine (FCPM) Clerkship

Elen Mendoza, MD, and Shahrzad Saririan, MD, MPH

“Her commitment to patient care, serving marginalized communities and addressing health disparities, her empathy, work ethic and leadership skills will serve her well in her future career as a family physician,” Dr. Saririan said.

Dr. Saririan noted that many students were deserving of the recognition that came with this award. But she selected Dr. Mendoza because of her exceptional performance and core knowledge of family, community and preventive medicine.

Internal Medicine – Cassandra Everly, MD, MPH

Presented by Christina Bergin, MD, clinical professor of Internal Medicine, and Nathanael Adjei, MD, clinical assistant professor of Internal Medicine

Cassandra Everly, MD, MPH, with Christina Bergin, MD, and Nathanael Adjei, MD

Dr. Everly “consistently educated her team about her patients and their medical conditions,” said Dr. Bergin. “And she had tremendous efforts outside of the clerkship to advance the care of her patients, to promote equity and to advance scholarship.”

Dr. Bergin added that Dr. Everly routinely performed at an exceptionally high level in the clinical setting.

Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) Award – Colton Cowan, MD

Presented by Jonathan Cartsonis, MD, director of the Rural Health Professions Program

Colton Cowan, MD, with Jonathan Cartsonis, MD

Of Dr. Cowan, Dr. Cartsonis was complimentary of his interpersonal skills and his ability to quickly establish a rapport with patients, faculty and staff.

“In the process of completing the nearly year-long LIC in Payson, he founded a clinic for unsheltered individuals in the rural community and the region,” he said.

Dr. Cowan sought to embed himself in the community, providing extra services to those in need.

Neurology – Jayden Gubler, MD

Presented by Joshua Tobin, MD, co-director of the Neurology Clerkship

Jayden Gubler, MD, with Joshua Tobin, MD

In lieu of providing his own words about the excellent work of Dr. Gubler, Dr. Tobin instead offered something he deemed to be at the top of the hierarchy of opinions: Unsolicited feedback.

Dr. Tobin read from comments submitted about Dr. Gubler and the care he provided. Dr. Gubler “was an absolute rock star. I don’t know if I would’ve made it through the last week without him. Most definitely went above and beyond what is expected for medical students.”

Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) – Rachel Mendoza, MD

Presented by Katie Brite, MD, associate dean of Clinical and Competency Based Education

Rachel Mendoza, MD, with Katie Brite, MD

In presenting the award for OB/GYN, Dr. Brite filled in for Laura Mercer, MD, and Taylor Norton, MD — both assistant clinical professors of OB/GYN — who were in the clinic.

They described Dr. Mendoza as a “humble and vulnerable learner,” who is quick to ask questions and always continues to learn. She is capable, adaptable, intelligent and skilled.”

Pediatrics – Jacob Howshar, MD

Presented by Jorge Masuello, MD, director of the Pediatrics Clerkship

Jacob Howshar, MD, with Jorge Masuello, MD

Dr. Howshar is “one of the highest performing medical students we’ve had,” Dr. Masuello said. He exhibited “excellent medical knowledge and responded well to feedback.”

Dr. Masuello also complimented Dr. Howshar’s ability to formulate assessment plans for his patients and develop multiple differential diagnoses.

Psychiatry – Claire Faulkner, MD, MPH

Presented by Dr. Brite

Claire Faulkner, MD, MPH, with Katie Brite, MD

On behalf of Scott Grogan, MD, director of the Psychiatry Clerkship, Dr. Brite presented the Psychiatry Award to Dr. Claire Faulkner. Dr. Brite, who worked closely with Dr. Faulkner on several college initiatives, shared feedback provided from faculty in the Psychiatry Clerkship.

They described her as an exceptionally motivated student, who was eager to learn from each of her cases. She was always receptive to feedback and had an “empathetic approach with patients and easily built a natural rapport without much coaching.”

Surgery – Chung Yon (John) Lin, PhD, MD

Presented by Priya Rajdev, MD, co-director of the Surgery Clerkship

Chung Yon (John) Lin, PhD, MD, with Priya Rajdev, MD

Dr. Lin set out for a “relentless pursuit of self-improvement, setting a shining example for everyone — including some of our attendings.” During the Surgery Clerkship, he “consistently impressed the preceptors and the residents with his knowledge base, surgical skills and, honestly, a delightful enthusiasm for learning,” Dr. Radjev said.

In addition, Dr. Radjev complimented his communication skills, as they received overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients through unsolicited feedback.

Pillar Awards

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 – Ashley Kern, MD

Presented by Kareem Raad, MD, director of the Community Health Initiatives – Phoenix, with Gerald L. Wissink.

Ashley Kern, MD, with Kareem Raad, MD, and Gerald L. Wissink

This award recognizes a student who exhibits unparalleled commitment to and positive effect on the community.

Dr. Kern “was voted by her peers into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) at the end of her third year and has spent over 250 hours volunteering in multiple arenas,” Dr. Raad said. “She is a kind person — beloved by her peers and community.”

Stuart D. Flynn, MD, Pillar of Leadership Award – Carleen Cuevas, MD

Presented by Ranita Sharma, MD, executive vice dean

Carleen Cuevas, MD, with Ranita Sharma, MD

The Pillar of Leadership Award is given annually to a medical student who demonstrates exceptional commitment and leadership to the College of Medicine – Phoenix.

Dr. Cuevas, a mother of three, was chosen for her enthusiastic engagement with key community health initiatives — such as prison health, promoting voting access, destigmatizing homelessness — and for her “passion for advocacy, policy and research,” Dr. Sharma said. “She fits the bill for who we as educators predict will be a passionate and lifelong learner.”

Robert E. Kravetz, MD, Pillar of Scholarship Award – Jacob Howshar, MD

Presented by Glen Fogerty, PhD, MBA, vice dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, with Dr. Kravetz

Jacob Howshar, MD, with Glen Fogerty, PhD, MBA

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

Throughout medical school, Dr. Howshar submitted several research articles for publication, was actively involved with multiple honorary societies — including the American Medical Association and the American College of Radiology; was a member of the student government, as well as the co-leader for the diagnostic radiology and neurosurgery student interest groups; presented multiple oral presentations for his research; volunteered with public health programs and more.

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation – Megan Vaughan, MD

Presented by Shakaib Rehman, MD, interim chair and professor of the Department of Biomedical Informatics

Megan Vaughan, MD, with Shak Rehman, MD

Dr. Rehman, who serves as the college’s faculty advisor for the GHHS, said this particular award is special because it is chosen by the student’s colleagues. Named for Leonard Tow, PhD, the 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.

Dr. Rehman described Dr. Vaughn as “an example of all humanistic qualities.”

Certificates of Distinction

Certificate of Distinction in Primary Care

Presented by Dr. Shahrzad Saririan

Dr. Saririan and the Primary Care Scholars

“These students have been true leaders in primary care on campus and beyond and champions of health equity. They have helped shape our patient-centered care curriculum and serve as mentors to other students in the program,” said Dr. Saririan.

Recipients included:

  • Natalie Alteri, MD.
  • Annapurna Chitnavis, MD, MPH.
  • Prathima Harve, MD.
  • Catherine Ingbar, MD, MPH.
  • Elen Mendoza, MD.
  • Megan Vaughan, MD.
  • Jeremy Winkelman, MD.

Certificate of Distinction in Service & Community Health

Presented by Leah Hillier, MD, Director of Service Learning

Dr. Hillier and the Service and Community Health COD Students

“I am constantly astounded and inspired by the students in this program. They make me want to be better at what I do. We are so excited to see all the spectacular accomplishments yet to come from this group,” said Dr. Hillier.

Recipients included:

  • Theresa Bui, MD.
  • Alex Frances Sophia Buranday, MD.
  • Jessica Dong, MD, MPH.
  • Jovanna Figueroa, MD.
  • Aaron Cedric Llanes, MD.
  • Vrishti Shah, MD.
  • Isabel Strouse, MD.
  • Likith (Lucky) Surendra, MD.
  • Maxine Yang, MD, MPH.

Certificate of Distinction in Global Health

Presented by David Beyda, MD, director of the Global Health Certificate of Distinction

Dr. Beyda and the Global Health COD Students

Dr. Beyda was highly complimentary of the diverse work the Global Health students did during their time in the program. From collaborating with physicians in Iraq on breast cancer diagnosis to conducting home visits with underserved patients in Mexico, they truly made a difference for the people they served.

Recipients included:

  • Haya Al Any, MD.
  • Maria Bala, MD.
  • Sarah Meskal, MD (not pictured).
  • Katharine O’Neill, MD.

Certificate of Distinction in Rural Health

Presented by Dr. Cartsonis

Dr. Cartsonis and the Rural Health COD Students

“We had great fun with this group. All of them went above and beyond the requirements. They volunteered time, describing what the COD is all about to subsequent classes. They made themselves available for media to share experiences with the external world beyond these walls,” said Dr. Cartsonis.

Recipients included:

  • Katharine Barlow, MD.
  • Colton Cowan, MD.
  • Jorge Gonzalez, MD.
  • Colin Hurkett, MD.
  • Meghna Jayaraman, MD.
  • Jahnavi Shriram, MD.
  • Eric Jackson, MD.
  • Chris Denetso, MD (not pictured).
  • Henry Hoskinson, MD (not pictured).

Certificate of Distinction in Health Humanities

Presented by Jennifer Hartmark-Hill, MD, FAAFP, director for the Health Humanities Program

Dr. Hartmark-Hill and the Health Humanities COD Students

“Congratulations. I really am proud of you and want to commend all of the contributions you’ve made to our community and beyond, engaging in the work of humanism in medicine,” said Dr. Hartmark-Hill.

Recipients included:

  • Kie Lovell, MD.
  • Naushaba Khan, MD (not pictured).
  • Carleen Cuevas, MD.
  • Daniel Oheb, MD.

Dual Degrees

Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (MD/MPH)

Presented by Doug Campos-Outcalt, MD, MPA, director of the MD/MPH Program

Dr. Campos-Outcalt and the MD/MPH Students

The “COVID CORE,” as Dr. Campos-Outcalt called the 13 graduates of the MD/MPH dual degree program, were able to complete the rigorous challenges of their curriculum, despite having years of their study upended by the pandemic. He was immensely proud of how they persevered.

Recipients included:

  • Marcus Childs, MD, MPH.
  • Annapurna Chitnavis, MD, MPH.
  • Jessica Dong, MD, MPH.
  • Taylor Elinski, MD, MPH.
  • Cassandra Everly, MD, MPH.
  • Claire Faulkner, MD, MPH.
  • Catherine Ingbar, MD, MPH.
  • Eshaan Kashyap, MD, MPH.
  • Ritwik Keshav, MD, MPH (not pictured).
  • Alexis Montoya, MD, MPH.
  • Thane Rosette, MD, MPH (not pictured).
  • Lily Sandblom, MD, MPH.
  • Maxine Yang, MD, MPH.

Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy (MD/PhD)

Presented by Amelia Gallitano, MD, PhD, director of the MD/PhD Program

Dr. Gallitano and the MD/PhD Students

“These degrees are the highest professional and academic degrees in the fields of medicine and science,” said Dr. Gallitano. The MD/PhD program was started in 2017, making Drs. Conner and Ashley its inaugural graduates. Dr. Gallitano was extremely proud of their accomplishment and the bar they set for future students.

“They are really incredible. They’ve been both brave and also very generous with their time and their expertise with their fellow students, serving as leaders and as peer advisors,” she said.

Recipients included:

  • Benjamin Conner, MD, PhD.
  • Ashley Guest, MD, PhD.
Photos from the event

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.