Traditional Honoring Ceremony

Saturday, May 12, 7 to 9:30 a.m. (reception following), at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, Hippocrates courtyard (south of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson), 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson.

The annual Traditional Honoring Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 12, 7 to 9:30 a.m. (reception following), at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, Hippocrates courtyard (south of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson), 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson.

The ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of graduating American Indian and Alaska Native students from the UA Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

The students, their families and friends; Arizona Health Sciences Center faculty, administration and staff; American Indian Tribal representatives; and American Indian alumni partake in a traditional American Indian blessing ceremony offered by a local traditional healer to honor completion of the students’ educational pathways and mark the beginning of their journeys as health-care professionals and public health professionals.

American Indian graduates who will participate in this year’s Traditional Honoring Ceremony include:

  • Anya Ashley, Navajo, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Ashley will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in public health at the college’s convocation on Friday, May 11.
  • Thomasina Blackwater, Navajo, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Blackwater will receive a master’s in public health at the college’s convocation on Friday, May 11.
  • Kendria Dickson, Yaqui-Seminole, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Dickson will receive a master’s in public health at the college’s convocation on Friday, May 11.
  • Amber Mwamba, Choctaw, UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mwamba will receive her medical degree at the college’s convocation on Friday, May 11. As a medical student, she participated in the college’s Rural Health Professions Program, spending several weeks in the summer of 2008 being mentored by Jeffrey Osburn, MD, at his obstetrics and gynecology practice in Prescott, Ariz. She will pursue a residency in pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.
  • Marla Yazzie, Navajo, UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Yazzie will receive her medical degree at the college’s convocation on Friday, May 11. She will pursue a residency in pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.

Each student is blessed and offered a small gift from his or her respective college. Students’ family members, friends and community are given the opportunity to speak to the students and share congratulatory words and well wishes.

The ceremony is conducted by Traditional Healer Pete Flores Jr., and Carlos Gonzales, MD (UA College of Medicine Class of 1981), both members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, a Tucson-area tribal community. Dr. Gonzales also is clinical associate professor with the UA College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The ceremony is coordinated by the UA Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs (www.diversity.medicine.arizona.edu), with support from Michael Stoklos and the Stoklos Native American Health Education Fund at the UA, and special thanks to Pete Flores and family and Carlos Gonzales, MD, and family.