TUCSON, Ariz. – On Thursday, May 14, 117 students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson officially will become doctors.
The convocation ceremony, in which students will be recognized for earning Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees, will take place entirely online beginning at 4 p.m.; viewers may watch it at Facebook.com/UAZMedTucson.
Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA, dean of the College of Medicine – Tucson, will deliver the ceremony’s welcome remarks and lead the graduating students in reciting the Hippocratic Oath, an ethical pledge by graduating physicians to their future patients.
“For the first time in our history, and due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we are not gathering physically to commemorate our graduating class,” Abecassis said. “Instead, we are gathering virtually to recognize and acknowledge our students’ achievements and accomplishments, and to honor and celebrate their graduation. But let us be clear, not only do the circumstances that surround this convocation not diminish the importance of the milestone, but instead I would submit that they help underscore its significance and meaning.”
Additional remarks will be delivered by the 2019 Alumnus of the Year Dan Derksen, MD, who currently serves as the associate vice president for health equity, outreach and interprofessional activities at UArizona Health Sciences. Medical student Cazandra Zaragoza was nominated by her peers to serve as this year’s class speaker; she will pursue residency training in family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
The Class of 2020 is made up of 61 women and 56 men. More than 30 of the graduates identify with a racial or ethnic group that is underrepresented in medicine. Two members of the class will receive a dual MD-MPH degree, a program offered in partnership with the UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The Class of 2020 also includes the second cohort of graduates—nine students—from the UArizona Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) program. Established in 2014, the P-MAP program introduces highly qualified, underrepresented students to the pursuit of medical education. Upon completion of P-MAP, students earn a master’s degree in cellular and molecular medicine from UArizona and automatically are accepted into the College of Medicine – Tucson.
Following are a few of the inspirational graduates who make up the Class of 2020:
Ricardo Ayala credits the mortgage collapse of 2007 for shifting his focus from being a mortgage broker to medicine. “My passion for serving others, my appreciation for preventative medicine and my interest in health and wellness directed me to aspire to become a physician,” he said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricardo opted to graduate early from the College of Medicine – Tucson on April 13. Ricardo is now headed to Detroit, Michigan, a city that has been hard hit by the virus. Ricardo will pursue anesthesiology during his residency at Henry Ford Hospital, a specialty he chose “because of the profound impact anesthesiology interventions have on patients.”
Ricardo holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the UArizona. When asked what he is most proud of accomplishing while in medical school, he said, “I am most proud of balancing my pursuit of professional endeavors with being a very present husband and father.”
Kevin Moynahan will graduate with a distinction in integrative medicine, healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person, including lifestyle. Kevin will pursue his residency training in internal medicine because he is passionate about chronic disease management and prevention. “I want to help change health paradigms to make them better suited for helping individuals stave off illness and spend their lives free of disease,” he said.
Kevin was inspired to become a doctor to improve the state of health care and to better address the needs of the aging population. He said, “I’ve always been interested in biological sciences, and applying biology to help people live better lives seemed like a win-win.”
In his free time, Kevin spends time playing the guitar and recording music; he is proud to have released an album with his band Her Mana while attending medical school. Kevin is the son of physician and alumnus Kevin Moynahan, MD, who currently serves as the college’s Deputy Dean for Education.
Angela Wu will earn a combined MD-MPH from the College of Medicine – Tucson and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. After graduation, she will go on to pursue her “dream job” in her “dream city:” emergency medicine in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington School of Medicine.
“I wanted an MPH to expand my perspective to the big picture of population health and learn more research methods through epidemiology and biostatistics,” Angela said. “I now have a deeper understanding about the social determinants of health that form many of the root causes of disease, which hopefully will help me be a more empathetic physician.”
Originally from Tucson, Angela holds a bachelor’s degree in physiology from the UArizona. She will graduate with a distinction in community service for 180+ hours of community service. Angela said she loves emergency medicine because of the excitement physicians face in the emergency department every day. She also enjoys “the social aspect of caring for an often vulnerable patient population with great need.”
In her free time, Angela stays active with activities like hiking, rock climbing, yoga and snowboarding.