UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson to Celebrate ‘Virtual’ 2020 Convocation

On May 14, a total of 117 medical students from the University of Arizona in Tucson officially will become physicians and earn their Doctor of Medicine degrees.

TUCSON, Ariz. – On Thursday, May 14, a total of 117 students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson will officially 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.

Graduates from the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2020 will not share an in-person, shoulder-to-shoulder convocation as was the case last year (pictured here). Instead, for the first time in the college’s 65-plus years, graduates will have their medical degrees conferred in a virtual online event.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,” Dr. 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 Daniel Derksen, MD, professor, the Walter H. Pearce Endowed Chair, and director of the Center for Rural Health, UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and associate vice president for health equity, outreach and interprofessional activities at the UArizona Health Sciences. Medical student Cazandra Zaragoza, MPH, 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 comprised of 61 women and 56 men; more than 30 of the graduates identify with a racial or ethnic group 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, MD

Ricardo Ayala credits the mortgage collapse of 2007-2008 for shifting his focus from being a mortgage broker to medicine. “My passion for serving others, my appreciation for preventive 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 and now is headed to Detroit, Mich., 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 was his most important accomplishment 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 MoynahanKevin 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. “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, the college’s deputy dean for education.

Angela WuAngela 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 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 hiking, rock climbing, yoga and snowboarding.

# # #

NOTE: Photos available upon request.

About the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, visit medicine.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).