NOTE: Due to concerns related to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases, the White Coat Ceremony originally scheduled for Aug. 13 has been postponed. To celebrate in person, Class of 2024 medical students have chosen to reschedule their ceremony on a February date to be determined.
What: White Coat Ceremonies for Incoming Students at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson
• Class of 2025 White Coat Ceremony, Friday, July 23, 2021 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Parking, seating and other general information here.
• Class of 2024 White Coat Ceremony, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Parking, seating and other general information here.
Where: Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., Tucson and livestreamed at streaming.biocom.arizona.edu.
About 120 University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson students in each of the classes of 2025 and 2024 will take part in White Coat Ceremonies to be held in person with faculty, family and friends in upcoming weeks at UArizona’s Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.
The milestone underscores recognition of the medical students’ entry into clinical medicine with their first physician’s white coat, the frock of their future profession. Class of 2025 incoming students receive theirs at a ceremony July 23. Class of 2024 students, who missed out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are entering their second year of medical school, will get theirs at a ceremony Aug. 13. Each event occurs from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
“We are excited to conduct an in-person White Coat ceremony for the incoming Class of 2025 due to efforts of our community, our health care system, and high vaccination rates among our students, administration and staff,” said Kevin Moynahan, MD, the college’s vice dean for education and a professor of medicine. “I commend the Class of 2024 for their resilience over the past year. I am sure the delay will make their belated ceremony even more meaningful.”
Alumni guest speaker for the July 23 event will be Class of 2009 graduate Minerva Romero Arenas, MD, an endocrine and general surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. A Mexico City native, she is a founding member of the Latino Surgical Society.
For the Aug. 13 event, speaking will be Class of 1999 alumni Bert Vargas, MD. A Tucson native and sports neuroscience and concussion specialist, Dr. Vargas has worked with the NFL as well as NASCAR as an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving with distinction as a flight surgeon during combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Below are a few of the impressive students participating from the Class of 2025:
Adam Carl grew up in Flagstaff and spent a large part of his childhood winter and summer breaks with his grandmother, a member of the Hopi tribe. She suffered from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, and passed away when he was 8 years old. In high school, he began volunteering for the Hopi Health Care Center at First Mesa in Polacca, Arizona. He notes there are only four Hopi physicians in the U.S. and he aims to be the fifth. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physiology and biochemistry from UArizona, winning a number of awards including the Bahti Award for outstanding graduating senior and participating in the UArizona Health Sciences’ Border Latino and American Indian Summer Exposure to Research (BLAISER) program. Currently, he’s completing his master’s thesis for an accelerated degree in environmental health sciences on the impact of arsenic exposures on tribal lands. He won an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, Tribal Nations Scholarship and Outstanding Incoming Public Health Graduate Student Award to continue his studies for that.
Mesa-born Davina Dobbins, MPH, earned a UArizona bachelor’s degree in physiology, holds graduate certificates in science communications and college teaching, and just completed the MBA/MPH dual degree program. Her MBA/MPH projects included improving IT onboarding at Banner Health, creating a model to forecast service demand at the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services, and an evaluation of the state’s Stock Inhaler for Schools Program for the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center. Last summer, funded by a grant from Sigma Xi, she also launched an Instagram campaign to debunk myths about COVID-19 and in January, she began volunteering for WORKship/Z Mansion, a local organization that assists the homeless. As a Wildcat, she's volunteered for Student Alumni Ambassadors, Wildcat Corps/Americorps and the MBA Students Association. And she was part of the Charles Darwin Experience, a local improvisational comedy troupe.
From Scottsdale, Madison Newman was inspired at age 8 to study medicine when she saw Body Worlds – a traveling exposition of dissected human bodies, animals and other anatomical structures preserved by a plastination process – at the Phoenix Art Museum. A UArizona Honors College graduate, she just earned her bachelor’s degree in physiology and is an inaugural member of the Honors Early Assurance Program (HEAP), which gives honors students early admission to the College of Medicine – Tucson after their junior year. In HEAP, she did research in the lab of Michael Kuhns, PhD, studying T cells and immunology, but when the pandemic restricted lab access switched her honors thesis to diabetes among the homeless, working with Patricia Lebensohn, MD, a family medicine physician and medical director for the Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) Program, at the Sister Jose Women’s Center.
Tucson native Coco Tirambulo, MPH, is a first-generation Filipino-American whose parents arrived here 30 years ago fleeing guerrilla warfare and who now own three residential adult-care facilities. She’s enrolled in the college’s MD/PhD dual-degree program and hopes to be a physician-scientist whose research in geriatrics and healthy aging complements her profession in caring for older adults. She earned her bachelor’s in biology from Brandeis University near Boston. Returning to Tucson, she worked with the UArizona Center on Aging and Biomedical Engineering Department at the College of Engineering, studying frailty syndrome and related biomechanics. She then earned a master’s in public health from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Afterward, she joined the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) Program, and is completing a master’s thesis in cellular and molecular medicine, focusing her research on Parkinson’s disease.
The Class of 2025 is 55% female and 45% male, with ages ranging from 21 to 38. Arizona residents represent 84% of the class, with 17 from Tucson. Forty-two are underrepresented minorities, 35 identify as disadvantaged and 29 students are from a rural upbringing.
The 2021 White Coat events will be the 26th and 27th ceremonies at the College of Medicine – Tucson. The first was held in 1995 and has been a tradition for incoming UArizona medical students since.
A “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin, provided by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which established the first white coat ceremony in 1993 at Columbia University in New York, will be affixed to each coat. “By establishing this meaningful ritual at the beginning of medical school, students become aware of their responsibilities from the first day of training,” according to the foundation, established in 1989 to foster humanism and compassionate care in medicine.