UArizona Health Sciences Colleges Create New Ways to Celebrate Graduates

UArizona Health Sciences Colleges Create New Ways to Celebrate Graduates

TUCSON, Ariz. – The coronavirus pandemic has changed much of life as we know it, and college convocations and university commencement ceremonies are no exception.

Each college that makes up the University of Arizona Health Sciences has approached the changes differently, incorporating student ideas, keeping or adapting traditions, and being creative to make this year’s events unique and memorable.

The Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health opted to host ceremonies this month by going fully virtual. The College of Nursing will hold an in-person convocation for its graduates in the fall, and the College of Pharmacy is offering both options.

College of Medicine – Phoenix: virtual ceremony, Monday, May 11, 3:30 p.m.

Zana Alattar was chosen by her classmates to be the Class of 2020 commencement speaker May 11 at the College of Medicine – Phoenix. (Photo: UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix)

The College of Medicine – Phoenix will host a ceremony including live and prerecorded segments. Proceedings include an address from the Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara M. Christ, MD, hooding of the graduates and class recitation of the Hippocratic Oath.

This year, 93 students will receive Medical Doctor degrees, 16 of whom will also receive a dual Master of Public Health degree. Faculty and staff were invited to participate in a celebratory video or contribute written messages for the Class of 2020. The video will be played at the end of the ceremony, and the collection of messages will be shared on social media. Read more about some of the graduates here.

The commencement will be livestreamed on Facebook and posted to the college YouTube channel after the event, with a condensed version available on the college’s website.

The College of Medicine – Phoenix will host a separate virtual convocation ceremony for its 14 Pathway Scholars on May 13 at 5:30 p.m. These students earned a UArizona master’s degree in medical studies and automatically are accepted into the College of Medicine – Phoenix.

College of Medicine - Tucson: virtual ceremony, Thursday, May 14, 4 p.m.

The College of Medicine – Tucson has gifted the Class of 2020 with its regalia, which was shipped to all graduates in late April.

Gilberto Vega shows Cazandra Zaragoza, nominated by fellow students as this year’s class speaker, how to simulate walking across a stage on graduation day. The video and photos of participating students will be used May 14 in the College of Medicine – Tucson’s virtual convocation event. (Photo: UArizona Health Sciences/Noelle Haro-Gomez)To personalize their virtual ceremony, the college took portraits of those who were in Tucson, and incorporated photos submitted from those not able to have them taken. Short video shoots of some students will be edited to appear as though they are walking to receive their diploma. When each student’s name is called during the ceremony, either the video or their photo will appear on screen. The video will be available on the college’s Facebook page.

The class includes 117 students receiving Medical Doctor degrees, two who will also receive a dual Master’s in Public Health degree. Nine of those students are graduates from the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) program, having earned a master's degree in cellular and molecular medicine and gained automatic acceptance to the College of Medicine – Tucson. Read more about some of the graduates here.

College of Public Health: virtual ceremony, Friday, May 15

Chris Tisch, assistant dean of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and Gisela Ochoa take a moment to celebrate during the college’s virtual ceremony filming. Their graduation will be celebrated May 15. (Photo: UArizona Health Sciences/Noelle Haro-Gomez)The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health’s virtual ceremony is in advance of the university-wide commencement. It will be hosted on the MarchingOrder platform, and will include prerecorded elements including recognition of awards, academic distinction and ambassadors; individual recognition of graduates, featuring graduate-designed slides; and a congratulatory video from the Office of Student Services and Alumni Affairs.

Three students will earn their Doctorate in Public Health degree, eight will earn a Doctor of Philosophy and two will earn a Master of Science. Across the Tucson and Phoenix campuses and online, 145 students will earn a Master of Public Health, including 16 students receiving dual degrees (MD/MPH), and 158 students will earn a Bachelor of Science.

College of Pharmacy: virtual ceremony, Friday, May 15, 9 a.m.

College of Pharmacy Dean Rick Schnellmann, PhD, records his convocation address in the Health Sciences Innovation Building to be used May 15 at  this year’s virtual ceremony. (Photo: UArizona College of Pharmacy/Ali Bridges)

Based on student survey results, the College of Pharmacy is offering its class two options for celebrating their new degrees. They can attend a virtual event this month or an in-person fall convocation at Homecoming.

The college’s ceremony normally would include hooding the students with regalia signifying their degree. Instead, the regalia was mailed to all students so a family member or friend could hood them when their name is called. The student’s photo and brief information about them will appear on screen at that moment, so all students will have a moment of personal recognition during the prerecorded ceremony.

This year, 106 students will earn their Doctor of Pharmacy degree, five will earn the Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Sciences, one will earn a Master’s in Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and 16 students will be in the first graduating class with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The event’s video will be available on the college YouTube channel, its homepage and social media at 9 a.m., May 15.

College of Nursing: in-person convocation, fall 2020

May graduates of the College of Nursing are invited to take part in one of the graduation ceremonies scheduled this fall, allowing them to celebrate in person with their families and classmates. More information will be forthcoming at the College of Nursing convocation website.

Three students will earn their Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree, 25 will earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice, 26 will earn a Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership and 54 students will earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. Graduates are invited to share celebratory selfies, pictures and videos with the college on May 14, which will be compiled into an album and highlighted on social media.

To recognize graduates this month, the college will send a gift package filled with Wildcat and college-themed items as well as a formal invitation to the fall ceremony. On May 14, graduates also will receive an emailed congratulatory video message from Dean Ida M. “Ki” Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Please note, the UArizona also will host a virtual commencement ceremony May 15 at 6 p.m. Go to the University’s commencement website for more information. An in-person ceremony will be offered Oct. 30.

See this link for more on the UArizona Health Sciences colleges’ activities on the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

A version of this story appeared originally on the UArizona Health Sciences Connect webpage.

College Contacts:
Nadia Whitehead, College of Medicine – Tucson

Teresa Joseph, College of Medicine – Phoenix

Ali Bridges, College of Pharmacy

Shipherd Reed, College of Public Health

Will Holst, College of Nursing

NOTE: Photos available here –

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: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

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Friday, May 8, 2020 - 16:16