Aspiring Doctors to Learn their Future at Match Day Ceremony

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution for the welfare of students and employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional, large-scale Match Day ceremony hosted by the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson has been canceled. Instead, medical students will hold smaller, private celebrations with their friends and loved ones to celebrate their Match results. Learn more.

TUCSON, Ariz. – More than 100 medical students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson will learn where they will complete the next phase of their medical training at this year’s Match Day celebration.

The event will take place from 7:30 – 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 20 in the Forum of the Health Sciences Innovation Building (1670 E. Drachman St.). 

Surrounded by classmates, family and friends, students in their final semester of medical school simultaneously will tear open envelopes at 9:30 a.m.; the contents will reveal where they will begin their careers as physicians. This nationwide celebration, known as Match Day, represents a culmination of four hard years of work during medical school.

Unlike selecting which medical school they will attend, medical students cannot directly choose where they will go for their residency training — a computer algorithm decides for them. During their last year of medical school, all students select a specialty and institutions where they aspire to train. Students then apply to conduct interviews for their preferred residency locations. 

Students later rank their residency location preferences, while institutions rank the students they would like to have as trainees. The match process then is completed by the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

“Match Day is the most emotional, stressful and exhilarating day of medical school,” says Kevin Moynahan, MD, deputy dean for education at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. “Medical school is incredibly challenging and Match Day represents the end of a long journey. All of our students have been working so hard to get this day; I am incredibly proud of them all.”

Fourth-year medical students across the nation learn their match results at coordinated ceremonies that occur each year on the same date (the third Friday in March) and at the same time (12 p.m. Eastern time).

Medical students are obligated to go to the institution to which they have been matched. Residency training typically lasts from three to seven years, depending on the specialty the physician is pursuing.

Below are just a few of the outstanding medical students in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Class of 2020:

Jessica Filon was born in Fresno, California, but grew up in Chandler, Arizona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Northern Arizona University. 

Filon became a new parent while in medical school; as a third-year medical student, Filon gave birth to her daughter, Sofie. “It has been an adjustment to learn how to balance the roles of being a physician-in-training and being a parent,” Filon says. “How do I study for boards with a newborn? How do I devote enough of myself to learning as much as I can for my future patients, while still being present for my daughter?”

Despite the stress of juggling school and parenthood, Filon will graduate with a distinction in community service for 180+ hours of community service. She ultimately hopes to become a family medicine physician who provides care to the underserved and uninsured. 

Originally from Somalia, Hussein Magale spent 17 years living in a Kenyan refugee camp after civil war erupted in his home country. Life in the camp was a struggle daily, where basic necessities such as food and water were scarce. Magale says, “Refugee life taught me that if I do not make the effort to face my challenges, I will not and cannot succeed.”

Now as a fourth-year medical student, Magale is proud to be the first person in his family to attend college and medical school. A UArizona alum, Magale holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, as well as a master’s degree in cellular and molecular medicine. 

Magale hopes to pursue internal medicine as his medical specialty. He finds complex patient cases and proper diagnosis intellectually challenging and simulating.

Samwel Ochieng moved to the U.S. from Kenya when he was 7 years old. Today, Ochieng holds a bachelor’s degree in physiology from the University of Arizona. He hopes to pursue his residency training in anesthesiology, a specialty that requires quick thinking, technical proficiency and direct work with patients. 

Ochieng will graduate with a distinction in community service for 180+ hours of community service. As a medical student, Ochieng and fellow students created a mentorship program for undergraduate African Americans called “The Pipeline Program.”

“One of the things I am most proud of is the work I have been able to do in mentoring black college students,” he says. “As an undergraduate student I did not have a lot of guidance or direction early on and I made some mistakes.”

Despite his upcoming graduation, Ochieng hopes the program will continue with other medical students at the helm. 

Originally from rural Mexico, Cazandra Zaragoza holds a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a master’s degree in public health.

Zaragoza is a recipient of the prestigious UArizona Centennial Achievement Award. The annual awards are presented by UArizona President Robert Robbins, MD, to six students who have demonstrated integrity, determination and commitment in improving themselves, their families and their communities. Recipients have often completed groundbreaking research to aid underserved communities and given many hours to public service.

Zaragoza’s research has focused on increasing the number of Latinos in health professions through service-learning and peer mentorship; and advocating for equity for migrant/asylum seekers and undocumented patients in health care settings. 

After graduating, Cazandra hopes to be a primary care physician in academic medicine who works with underserved populations. She is a recipient of the 2020 Primary Care Physician Scholarship, which requires that students return to Arizona to practice medicine after completing residency training.


PLEASE NOTE: Match Day is open and free to all UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson faculty, staff and students, but an RSVP is required. For more information and to register to attend, please go to For those who cannot attend, this year’s ceremony will be live streamed at Stream goes live at 8:30 a.m. MST.

Media Contact: 
Nadia Whitehead