UA College of Medicine – Tucson Celebrates 2012 Convocations

Physiology undergraduates

UA College of Medicine – Tucson Celebrates 2012 Convocations

DATE:  Friday, May 11, 2012


Physiology undergraduates
NOON to 2 P.M. (reception follows)
UA Student Union Memorial Center, Grand Ballroom
1303 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson

Doctors of Medicine
3:30 to approximately 5:30-6 P.M. (reception begins about 5:30 p.m.)
Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson


  • Physiology Undergraduates

Friday, May 11
Noon to 2 p.m. (reception follows)
UA Student Union Memorial Center, Grand Ballroom
1303 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson

Graduating seniors receiving the bachelor of science in health sciences degree with a major in physiology will be recognized. Various awards will be presented. Reception follows.

Graduates include Bianca Elena Barcelo, who will receive a bachelor of health science in physiology. She also is graduating with a bachelor of science in molecular and cellular biology and a minor in Spanish. Barcelo has been accepted to the MD-PhD Program at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and will begin her medical studies in August. She was an undergraduate research assistant in the UA Department of Physiology (, where her research focused on toxicology effects of arsenic on lung epithelial cells. As a trainee in the UA’s Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, she presented her research at national conferences. She also was an Amgen Scholar at Stanford University, where her research encompassed characterization of transmembrane proteins essential to cell adhesion and cell movement. 


Barcelo’s ability to speak English and Spanish fluently allowed her to interpret for her grandparents at doctors’ appointments and to work as a volunteer at Clinica Armistad, a health clinic staffed by volunteers who provide free health care to the uninsured in the Tucson community who do not have access to medical services. These experiences piqued her interest in working with patients and led her to her double major with a minor in Spanish. Her interest in research developed from her participation in the UA Graduate College’s Minority Health Disparities (MHD) Undergraduate Summer Research program. She encourages other students to “try their best and never give up if that’s what you want to do.”

  • Doctors of Medicine, UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Friday, May 11
3:30 to approximately 5:30-6 p.m.
(reception begins about 5:30 p.m.)
Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson

(This event also will be broadcast live on the Internet at

The UA College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2012 includes 105 graduates: 63 women, 42 men, 14 Hispanic students and one Native American student. Nearly half will go into primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics); nearly a third will pursue residencies in Arizona.

Keynote speaker will be Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States; distinguished professor, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and vice chairman, Canyon Ranch. Dr. Carmona’s address is titled “A Surgeon General’s Perspective on Global Threats and Exceptional Opportunities.” Dr. Carmona was born to a poor Hispanic family in New York City. He experienced homelessness, hunger and health disparities during his youth. The experiences greatly sensitized him to the relationships among culture, health, education and economic status and shaped his future. Dr. Carmona’s resume includes being a medic, registered nurse, hospital CEO, police and fire department medical director, trauma surgeon, SWAT team leader, U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and university professor. He also is the founding director of Arizona’s first regional trauma care system.  After being nominated as 17th U.S. Surgeon General in 2002, he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Today, Dr. Carmona is vice chairman of Canyon Ranch, CEO of Canyon Ranch Health division, and president of Canyon Ranch Institute. He is a distinguished professor of public health at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and UA professor of surgery and pharmacy.  He also has dozens of professional affiliations and serves on the boards of directors of several national corporations.

Class speaker will be medical student Alok Patel, whose address is titled, “Not on the First Date, Doc.” Patel will pursue a residency in pediatrics at University of Washington-affiliated hospitals in Seattle.

 EDITORS/REPORTERS NOTE: At approximately 5-5:30 p.m., Steve Goldschmid, MD, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, will lead the graduating students in reciting the Hippocratic Oath. A reception immediately follows the convocation.

Interesting 2012 UA College of Medicine – Tucson graduates include: 

Brad Askam and Elizabeth Lee 

Brad Askam and Elizabeth (Liz) Lee met in medical school and married during the spring break of their third year. They are among the growing number of couples who participated in the National Resident Matching Program™ (NRMP). Brad will pursue a residency in orthopaedic surgery and Liz will pursue a residency in general surgery at UA-affiliated hospitals in Tucson.

Brad, 27, is a Tucson native and graduate of Salpointe Catholic High School. He graduated from the UA in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology. As an undergraduate, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and largest academic honor society in the United States. He decided to pursue medicine after working as an x-ray technician at Tucson Orthopedic Institute, where he became interested in orthopaedic surgery. During medical school, Brad was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the only national medical honor society, the “Phi Beta Kappa for medical schools,” founded in 1902. Election to AOA is a lifelong honor, signifying a lasting commitment to scholarship, leadership, professionalism and service. An only child, Brad will be the first physician in his family, but not the first to work in the health-care field: his mother is a transcriptionist with the radiation oncology department at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and his father is the chief executive officer of Desert Cardiology Group. Both are UA graduates.


Liz, 28 (but only 9 months older than Brad), is a Tucson native and graduate of Catalina Foothills High School. The oldest of three children (her brothers both are architects), she spent a lot of time as a child in her physician-father’s office and knew that she wanted to be a nurse, physician assistant or doctor. Her mother also works in health care as a medical coder for the pediatrics department at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus. As an undergraduate, Liz was a member of the Arizona Surgery Club for pre-health undergraduate students and medical students. After graduating from the UA in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a minor in chemistry and Spanish, she attended a few semesters at the UA College of Nursing before deciding to pursue a career in medicine. Liz participated in the UA College of Medicine’s Rural Health Professions Program, in which medical students work side-by-side with rural Arizona physicians, and was mentored for 11 weeks total in Flagstaff during the summer of 2009 with Cynthia Martin, MD, at her internal medicine and pediatrics practice, and the summer of 2010 with Charles Smith, MD, family physician at North Country HealthCare.


Natasha Bhuyan, 26, is a native of Phoenix and a graduate of Desert Vista High School. She will pursue a residency in family medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, followed by a fellowship in geriatrics.

As a UA undergraduate, Natasha aspired to be a journalist and served as news editor for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She was drawn to medicine, however, by her experiences as a volunteer with Odyssey Hospice in Tucson; as a counselor for the UA College of Medicine’s Maricopa Med-Start (the UA College of Medicine’s summer program that encourages rural, minority and economically disadvantaged Arizona high school students to pursue health-care careers) in Phoenix; and working with children at Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, a resource for those impacted by serious illness or death. After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, she spent a year volunteering through AmeriCorps with homeless patients in Denver, Colo.

During medical school, she volunteered nearly 200 hours with the college’s Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program, including serving as coordinator of two CUP programs: ArtWorks, a local art therapy program for adults with developmental disabilities, and MSAPP (Medical Students at Planned Parenthood).


Through the Arizona Geriatric Education Center’s Interprofessional Senior Mentor Program (part of the Arizona Center on Aging at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson), she befriended several older adults. As president of the college’s Geriatrics Interest Group, she organized the Aging for Specialists Medical Student Conference, which was attended by 120 students. “Increasing the number of health-care professionals who are willing to provide quality, patient-centered care to older adults should be a priority,” she says.

She is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, an initiative of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation that recognizes individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care. She is on the national board of directors for Medical Students for Choice®, an international organization of medical students and residents dedicated to making reproductive health care, including abortion, part of standard medical education and residency training. As vice president of MedPride, a UA College of Medicine student club that promotes awareness of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) issues in health care, she organized events such as the NOH8 Campaign for marriage equality and volunteered with Tucson Pride, an organization that produces events for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. For her leadership efforts, she won the national American Medical Association Foundation Leadership Award in 2010.

She did her third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. Her activities also included serving as a member of the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians.

The only other doctor in her family is a cousin in India. Her parents moved to the United States from Assam, India, in the 1970s. Her father attended Arizona State University and recently retired from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Her sister also attended ASU and is a sixth-grade teacher in Phoenix.


After her residency and fellowship, she plans to practice in Phoenix, the city she loves. “I aim to advocate for patients who often don’t have a voice in medicine: the economically underserved, older adults, people with developmental disabilities, LGBTQ patients and women.”


She credits her mother's support and encouragement for her achievements. “I would be nowhere without my mom,” she says. “She taught me the values I live by today: love all, serve all.”


Brandon Coakley

Brandon Coakley, 26, is a native of Grand Junction, Colo. He will pursue a preliminary residency in medicine at Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Md., followed by a residency in dermatology at University of California, Irvine Medical Center.

Brandon is a graduate of Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit high school in Phoenix, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., where he majored in biochemistry with a minor in business.” It was incredible to extend the Jesuit tradition to my undergraduate education,” he notes.

After college, he worked for a year in Phoenix on health-care legislation before applying to medical school. This sparked a growing interest in public policy. “I realized that physicians can help one person at a time, but public policy changes can help millions,” he says. At the UA College of Medicine, he started the Society of Medical Economics, a student organization that looks at the intersection of health-care delivery, finance and public policy. “We brought in guest speakers such as Denise Cortese, past CEO of Mayo Clinic, to discuss health-care system design. Advocacy for better health-care policy has been a weakness of physicians in America and I hope to change that trend.”

The oldest of three siblings, Brandon will be the first physician in his family, but not the only family member in the health-care field. His sister, Jenna, is a pre-nursing sophomore at the UA and his wife, Erin, is studying to be a physician assistant at Midwestern University in Phoenix. Brandon completed his third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. His brother, Matthew, works for the Colorado Rockies.

Brandon and Erin met as undergraduates at Loyola Marymount University and married the summer before he began medical school. Erin initially worked as the scientific review committee coordinator for the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, then decided to become a clinician. “We both are interested in skin cancer, and we hope to practice dermatology together in Phoenix after my residency,” Brandon says.

“Skin cancer is a major problem in Arizona, and on average there is a 90-plus day wait to see a dermatologist in this state,” he says. “We desperately need more providers to meet the needs of our community. Arizonans spend a lot more time outdoors compared to the average American. Those extra UV rays create more skin cancer, and I want to be able to help prevent and treat my fellow Arizonans.”