By Wendy Sarubbi | May 14, 2020 4:09 pm

The day before they became M.D.s and in the midst of a pandemic, UCF College of Medicine seniors met via Zoom one last time to honor each other in the traditional – but not so traditional this year – Class Day Celebration.

On Thursday, students received honors for academic and clinical achievement. Dr. James Sanders, assistant professor of neurosurgery, received the Hippocratic Oath Award, honoring the faculty member students believe best exemplifies teaching excellence and compassionate care. Dr. Sanders will lead students in the physician’s Hippocratic Oath at Friday’s graduation.

Alex Cronkite and Lacie Turnbull received the Merck Manual Award for outstanding academic achievement, having earned A’s in every course during medical school. Turnbull also received the Dean’s award for academic achievement, professionalism and integrity, and the Faculty Choice Award for being the student faculty members most want to care for their family members.

Sanya Sellers received the Student Choice Award for being the physician most students would want to care for a loved one. She also received the Osler Award as the student who has demonstrated the most perseverance in overcoming obstacles to succeed.  Sellers’ brother ended his life in her first months of medical school, prompted her to create mental health workshops for high school students and enter psychiatry as a specialty.

Class Day is traditionally a luncheon where students and faculty leaders gather after graduation rehearsal to share memories and say goodbye. But with the COVID-19 virus requiring social distancing, Class Day 2020 – like commencement – was virtual.

The change in this year’s event – and in the world of medicine – was not lost on Dr. Marcy Verduin, associate dean of students, who spoke to the class via Zoom after four years of ushering them through medical school.

“As you graduate and begin your residencies, you stand on the threshold of a new beginning — a new beginning for your own career, and a new beginning for medicine as we unite in battle to fight this pandemic,” she said.  “I always believe in choosing to see the opportunity in the midst of challenge, and I also believe that the future always holds promise for those who are willing to rise up and meet those challenges.  I know all of you have what it takes to do just that.”

Additional Class Day Honorees:

  • Academic Excellence Award: Pressley Chakales, Alex Cronkite, Steven Glener, Lisa Malyak, Lacie Turnbull, Logan Walker
  • Outstanding Senior in Family Medicine: Jenna Driscoll
  • Florida Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Award: Jenna Driscoll, Amy Fitch
  • Outstanding Senior in Internal Medicine: Michelle Russin
  • Outstanding Senior in Neurology: Pressley Chakales
  • Outstanding Senior in OB/GYN: Riana Kahlon
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District XII Award: Jacklyn Locklear, Riana Kahlon
  • Outstanding Senior in Pediatrics: Jaclyn Marrinan
  • Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Award: Ashlee Smith
  • Outstanding Senior in Psychiatry: Sonia De La Cruz
  • Outstanding Senior in Surgery: Lisa Malyak
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