Class of 2024 medical students honored at College banquet

May 31, 2024

Thirty-two graduates of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine were recognized at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences Senior Banquet held May 16 at Cypress Inn Pavilion in Tuscaloosa.

As a regional campus of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, the College provides clinical education for a portion of third- and fourth-year medical students.

The graduating students, now physicians, will soon begin residency training in programs across 11 states. The students matched into residencies in family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, anesthesiology, diagnostic radiology, orthopaedic surgery, psychiatry and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I am proud to be here to celebrate members of this Class of 2024,” Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the College, said in welcoming remarks. “This group of students represents the third cohort of Primary Care Track graduates and are a very special part of CCHS. They are the perfect embodiment of our mission, which is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in rural Alabama and the Southeast region. To our students, I want to encourage you to continue your dedication to the practice of medicine and to always pursue your passion.”

The Primary Care Track is a medical education track designed to provide students with a strong foundation in clinical medicine, with additional experience in population health and physician leadership skills. CCHS is the only regional campus of the Heersink School of Medicine with a Primary Care Track.

As part of the Primary Care Track, medical students spend their time in a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC), which moves beyond the traditional block structure of the third year of medical school. In a LIC, students work closely with physician instructors and build mentoring relationships. Students also develop longitudinal relationships with patients, observe how their diseases and illnesses progress over time and get to know their patients as people in the context of their community and family. This differs from the traditional third-year model where every four to eight weeks students rotate through a different medical specialty, often in a hospital setting, without the opportunity to follow a patient longitudinally to see how the patient’s illness or disease evolves.

Dr. Grier Stewart, assistant dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at CCHS, introduced the graduating class and said he “is very proud of all of the graduates in starting the next step in their journey. These students are already contributing to the science of medicine. I hope that however far they travel and however great their accomplishments, that they keep in touch with us and let us know how they are doing.”

The Graduating Class of 2024 and their residency specialties:

Awards given at the banquet:

College Scholarships

Dr. Benjamin Collins Maxwell Endowed Scholarship

Awarded to Dr. Austin Kidd

Dr. Benjamin Maxwell was a pioneer in family medicine practice who trained many Tuscaloosa medical students and family medicine residents in his practice in Atmore, Ala. He was renowned for the degree of interest, patience and compassion he had for his patients. This scholarship was endowed by Dr. David and Mrs. Regina Maxwell to honor the legacy of Dr. Benjamin Maxwell and all primary care physicians and to support the Rural Medical Scholars program and academic excellence within CCHS. Priority is given to graduating medical students who plan to practice rural primary care in Alabama, with special consideration for students from Escambia County and the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship

Awarded to Drs. Collin Darwish, William Fagan, Joshua Graham, Austin Kidd and Ashley Spears

The Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship was created by Cynthia Ford Fitts (now Thomas) to address the needs of medical students who bear a high debt loan upon graduation from medical school. The scholarship was named in honor of her late husband, Frank Fitts Jr., great grandson of J.H. Fitts, who established The University of Alabama’s first endowed scholarship in 1903.

Jovita M. Taylor Endowed Scholarship

Awarded to Dr. Emily Hooker

The Jovita M. Taylor Endowed Scholarship is awarded annually to a medical student at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine – Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The scholarship was created by Drs. Michael A. Taylor and Heather M. Taylor to honor Mrs. Jovita M. Taylor and to promote the education of medical students at the College of Community Health Sciences. Priority of consideration is given to a third- or fourth-year CCHS medical student who plans to go into pediatrics.

Larry Mayes Endowed Scholarship

Awarded to Drs. Matthew Kiszla and Channing Bruce

The Larry Mayes Endowed Scholarship is awarded to medical students at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine – Tuscaloosa Regional Campus who elect a community medicine experience in a medically underserved setting in the United States or abroad during their third or fourth year of medical school.

Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship

Awarded to Drs. Willow Bryan, Joshua Graham, Jean Butler and June Wolford

The Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship was established by Dr. Robert and Mrs. Dorothy Pieroni to support medical students at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine – Tuscaloosa Regional Campus interested in entering primary care. This award takes both merit and financial need into consideration. Dr. Pieroni was a faculty member at the College of Community Health Sciences for many years and remains active in his support.

William W. Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship

Awarded to Fallon Lalor

The William W. Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship was established in 2016 by Ms. Madeleine M. Hill, in honor of her late husband. The recipient of this award has shown an exceptional interest in geriatrics and/or service learning and represents the best in academic medicine as recognized by faculty, residents and medical students.

Department and College Awards:

Recognition of Rural Medical Scholars

Drs. William Davis, William Fagan, Joshua Graham, Austin Kidd, Eva Kurtts, Kalissa Means, Jeffrey Price, Mykel Shiver, Ashley Spears, Gregory Stidham and Cooper Wright

Robert F. Gloor/James D. Leeper Award

Drs. Emily Hooker and Austin Kidd

Awarded for excellent performance in Community Medicine and Population Health.

William Owings Award in Family Medicine

Dr. Mykel Shiver

Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine.

William W. Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine

Dr. Willow Bryan

Awarded for outstanding achievement in Internal Medicine during the third and fourth years of medical school. This student possesses an exceptional wealth of knowledge, can integrate the pathology of disease with the physiology of clinical skills, and practices with empathy, compassion and a desire to improve the patients with whom the student comes in contact.

Neurology Award

Drs. Benjamin Kiszla and Jacob Abshire

Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship.

Pediatrics Recognition Award

Drs. Emily Hooker and Claire Gorman

Awarded for outstanding interest, ability and the reflection of pleasure in helping parents and their children reach their full personal, social and educational potential.

Pediatrics Advocacy Award

Dr. Emily Ward

Awarded for tireless commitment, compassion and advocacy for the well-being of children.

Peter Bryce Award in Psychiatry

Dr. Emma Cao

Awarded for excellence exhibited by a medical student, both academically and clinically, during their Psychiatry Clerkship. This award is presented in honor of Dr. Peter Bryce, appointed the first superintendent of Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa. He and his wife, Ellen Clarkson Bryce, were cornerstones for Tuscaloosa society and tenacious advocates for people who experience mental illness.

Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Drs. Jillian Tinglin and Anna Jones

Awarded to students achieving outstanding academic and clinical success in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This award is presented in honor of former CCHS medical students James H. Akers and Teresa K. Finney.

William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award

Dr. Mykaela Watt

Awarded to a student(s) with the highest scholastic achievement during their third-year Surgery Clerkship. Dr. William R. Shamblin, a Tuscaloosa native and former chair of the CCHS Department of Surgery, spent years educating the College’s medical students and family medicine residents. This award continues in his honor.

Interprofessional Excellence Award

Dr. Jillian Tinglin

This award recognizes the medical student who has demonstrated excellence in communication skills, respect for staff and patients, and a commitment to working as an effective member of the health care team.

Student Research Award

Dr. Benjamin Kiszla

Recognition of the pursuit of one or more research projects leading to presentation or publication during the clinical years of medical training.

Scholastic Achievement Award

Dr. Fallon Lalor

Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum.

William R. Willard Award

Drs. Mykaela Watt and Cooper Wright

Established by the Bank of Moundville, this award is presented for outstanding contributions to the goals and mission of the College of Community Health Sciences as voted by the College faculty.

Community Engagement Award:

Drs. Channing Bruce, Willow Bryan, Austin Kidd, Falon Lalor and Kalissa Means

Awarded to medical students who have engaged in community service by participating in Equal Access Birmingham, a student-run free clinic that provides continuity of care to the medically underserved. Students are also recognized as Health Equity Scholars, a three-year program that trains and prepares medical students to care for historically marginalized populations.

Peer Educator Award:

Drs. Channing Bruce, Justina Goldman, Fallon Lalor, Jeffrey Price, Mykel Shiver and June Woldford

Awarded to medical students who participate in tutoring and learning services for their fellow peers. The Peer Education Program is supported by the Academic Success Program at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine.

Outstanding Award for Cum Laude Status

Dr. Mykaela Watt

Outstanding Award for Summa Cum Laude Status

Dr. Fallon Lalor

Faculty, Resident and Student Awards as determined by the graduating class:

Faculty Recognition Award

Dr. Joe Wallace, associate professor and chair of the CCHS Department of Surgery, and Dr. Sachin Shenoy, assistant professor in the CCHS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during students’ junior year.

Patrick McCue Award

Dr. Dale Dickinson, director of the CCHS Office of Medical Student Affairs and associate professor in the CCHS Department of Community Medicine and Population Health

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during students’ senior year.

Resident Recognition Award

Dr. Josh Washington, a third-year resident in the UA Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program, which is operated by CCHS.

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education.

James H. Akers Memorial Award

Dr. Emily Hooker

Awarded to a graduating senior for dedication to the art and science of medicine.