Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) continued its tradition of honoring distinguished graduates with a special awards ceremony in May, although this year’s event had a twist: It brought together the Class of 2020 and COM faculty virtually.
Acknowledging the disappointment of not being able to celebrate in person, class president Patrick Gilson praised his classmates for successfully navigating the demands of medical school, from “long hours in the anatomy lab” and “rigorous testing every three to five days” to passing board exams and completing rotations.
“That was quite the wild ride,” he summarized. “It’s high time now that we celebrate those many milestones that will soon give us the immense privilege and responsibility of being called physicians.”
Special honors were bestowed upon the COM graduates listed below, but all class members were celebrated by the college.
“As someone who is blessed and honored to have placed my signature on each of your diplomas, know that the pride we all have in your accomplishments over the last four years is significant,” said COM Dean Steven Halm, D.O., FAAP, FACP.
Class member Alyssa Resop said she was “extremely honored and admittedly a little emotional” to be named the D.O. Graduate with Distinction. “My class was filled with bright and compassionate individuals, so it was truly an honor to be given this award,” said Dr. Resop, who plans to complete an anesthesiology residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison. “Some of my closest friendships developed over the past four years, and I wish we could have celebrated this milestone alongside one another. They are all going to be amazing physicians.”
Many of the graduates described participating in Commencement activities, which are available on the DMU website, with family and friends.
“Although the graduation ceremony itself was unconventional, I appreciated the ability to watch the event next to the people who supported me for the entirety of the journey,” said Tyler Folkerts, recipient of an Academic Achievement Award. He plans to complete a family medicine residency at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.
For Hannah Ingvalson, recipient of the Iowa Chapter of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians Award, graduating from COM was a family affair. In July she will begin a family medicine residency in Waukesha, WI.
“Thanks to my family, my at-home graduation in Decorah, Iowa, was everything I could have ever asked for,” she said. “My immediate family and in-laws watched the ceremony in the living room, took pictures and even ate cake.”
During the virtual COM Awards Ceremony, class president Dr. Gilson described how the camaraderie of the class “served as a source of resilience in the face of a challenge.”
“It also gave me incredible hope for the kind of influence the Class of 2020 will have on our patients,” he said. “For us, serving others and putting people first are the driving forces.”
Dr. Gilson concluded by noting “the call of duty has never been greater for a new generation of physicians” because of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with new responsibilities class members will undertake.
“But you know what I say? We got this,” he added. “Our fortitude is unquestionable; our commitment is indisputable; our compassion, undeniable.”
The following honors were awarded to members of the COM Class of 2020 in May.
D.O. Graduate with Distinction: Alyssa Resop
Academic Achievement Awards: Tyler Folkerts and Nicole Pagel
Behavioral Medicine (Psychiatry) Discipline Award: William Alexander Bennion
Family Medicine Discipline Award: Courtney Jo Donahoe
Garrett Reed Wheeler Award in Pediatrics: Kathryn Guymon
Global Health Outreach Award: Christine Jackson
Howard A. Graney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Surgery: Matthew Gibbs
Internal Medicine Award: Autumn Krcil
Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association Achievement Award: Kody Kasten
Iowa Chapter of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians Award: Hannah Ingvalson
Joseph R. McNerney, D.O., Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine: Autumn Krcil
Donna Jones Moritsugu Memorial Award: Loren Morris (spouse: Clint Morris, D.O.’20)
Osteopathic Manual Medicine Discipline Award: Amelia Balderston, Bradley Becker and Austin Pillon
Osteopathic Manual Medicine – Ram’s Head Fellowship Program Award: Anna Johnson, Kody Kasten, Erika Kolakowski and Samantha Tyler
Obstetrics and Gynecology Discipline Award: Miranda Roland
Ophthalmology Discipline Award: Erika Roust White
Pediatric Discipline Award: Haille Hardison
Surgery Discipline Award: Katherine Hoener
Clinical Adjunct Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching: Robert Bender, M.D.
M.S.A. Graduate with Distinction: Faris Najwadi, Dual Degree; Midhad Mrvoljak, Primary Degree
M.S.B.S. Graduate with Distinction: Brian Lifschutz, Dual Degree; Matt Hayden, Primary Degree