Graduating medical students celebrated at banquet

May 26, 2023

Thirty-four graduates of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine were recognized at the UA College of Community Health Sciences Senior Banquet held May 18 at Indian Hills Country Club 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. Since its founding in 1972, CCHS has provided the clinical education years of medical school for 1,047 medical students.

The graduating students, now physicians, will soon begin residency training in programs across 13 states. The students matched into residencies in family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, general surgery, radiology-diagnostic, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, vascular surgery, neurodevelopmental disabilities and anesthesiology.

“I am proud to be here in person to help celebrate the members of this medical school Class of 2023,” Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the College, said in welcoming remarks at the banquet. “Their presence here is significant in many ways as these students are a very special part of CCHS. They are the second class of Primary Care Track graduates and 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 through primary care and population health. I want to congratulate you on completing medical school and becoming doctors, even during a pandemic nonetheless.”

The Primary Care Track is an education track designed to provide students with a strong foundation in clinical medicine, with additional experience in population health and developing physician leadership skills. CCHS is the only regional campus of the Heersink School of Medicine with a Primary Care Track. Primary Care Track students at CCHS spend their time in a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, working closely with physician instructors and build mentoring relationships. They develop longitudinal relationships with patients and observe how their diseases and illnesses progress over time, not just in episodes.

Friend encouraged the graduates to “continue your dedication to the practice of medicine and the compassionate care of patients, and to always pursue your work with passion and commitment.”

Dr. Grier Stewart, assistant dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at CCHS, introduced the graduating class and said he “will always think of the students as a part of our CCHS family. We have been through a lot together and I always like to look at the progress of our students from the time they started to now as they go into their residencies.”

The Graduating Class of 2023 and their residency specialties:

Tawa Alabi Internal Medicine
John Allan Vascular Surgery
Alesha Amerson Family Medicine
Fernando Baquerizo Surgery
Magdalene Blevins Neurology
Christopher Britt Family Medicine
Andrew Brown Psychiatry
Emily Brown Family Medicine
Madison Bruce General Surgery
Caleb Carrol Radiology-Diagnostic
Jeremy Chu Family Medicine
Brent Collier Psychiatry
Paris Cooke Family Medicine
Teressa Duong General Surgery
Charles Evers Internal Medicine
Rex Farris Internal Medicine
Elizabeth Gill Obstetrics and Gynecology
Chelsey Hadden Family Medicine
Dan Johnston Internal Medicine
Stefan Knorr Psychiatry
Bradford Lepik Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
Meg McCalley Neurology
Christopher McCullers Emergency Medicine
Hayden Mezick General Surgery
Daniela Monroy General Surgery
Emily Ness Neurology
Lauren Oliver Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
Lexie Rasco Internal Medicine
Haley Roberts Family Medicine
Ansley Smoak Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
Allison Stephens Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Levi Stone Neurology
Jaida West Surgery
Seth White Anesthesiology

Awards given at the banquet:

College Scholarships

Dr. Sandral Hullett Endowed Scholarship

The Dr. Sandral Hullett Scholarship was established in 1992 from gifts given by the Capstone Health Services foundation and proceeds from the 1991 Fiesta Bowl to honor Dr. Hullett, one of the first African-American Family Medicine Residents to graduate from The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program.

Paris Cooke and Allison Stephens

Dr. Benjamin Collins Maxwell Endowed Scholarship

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, Alabama. 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. Maxwell and of 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.

Emily Brown

Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship

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 load upon graduation from medical school. The scholarship was named in honor of her late husband, Frank Fitts Jr., great grandson of J.J. Fitts, who established The University of Alabama’s first endowed scholarship in 1903.

Teressa Duong

Jovita M. Taylor Endowed Scholarship

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 consideration is given to a third-or fourth-year CCHS medical student who plans to go into pediatrics.

Allison Stephens

William W. Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship

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.

Lexie Rasco

Department and College Awards

Robert F. Glor/James D. Leeper Award

Awarded for excellent performance in Community Medicine and Population Health

Paris Cooke

William Owings Award in Family Medicine

Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine

Alesha Amerson

Recognition of Rural Medical Scholars

Paris Cooke, Chelsey Hadden, Rex Farris, Bradford Lepik II, Emily Brown, Christopher Britt

William W. Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine

Awarded for outstanding achievement in Internal Medicine during the third and fourth years. This student possesses an exceptional wealth of knowledge, is able to 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.

Charles Evers III

Neurology Award

Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship

Emily Brown

Pediatrics Recognition Award

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

Allison Stephens

Peter Bryce Award in Psychiatry

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, who was 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.

Andrew Brown

Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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

Elizabeth Gill

William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award

Awarded to 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 Department of Surgery, spent years educating medical students and Family Medicine residents. This award continues in his honor.

Hayden Mezick and Charles Evers III

Interprofessional Excellence Award

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.

Emily Brown

Student Research Award

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

Andrew Brown

Scholastic Achievement Award

Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum

Elizabeth Gill

William R. Willard Award

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.

Alesha Amerson

Community Engagement Awards:

Awarded for medical students who have engaged in community service, participating in Equal Access Birmingham, a student-run free clinic that provides continuity of care to the medically underserved at UAB School of Medicine. Students are also recognized as Health Equity Scholars, a three-year program that students engage in service and training to prepare them for careers caring for historically marginalized populations.

Paris Cooke, Elizabeth Gill, Daniela Monroy, Emily Ness, Ansley Smoak, and Jaida West

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

Faculty Recognition Award

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

Dr. Catherine Lavender

Patrick McCue Award

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during students’ senior year. Legend has it that Dr. McCue won the faculty award so often that it was decided to name the award after him with the condition that, because he was the recipient so many times, he could not receive it again.

Dr. Jacquelynn Luker

Resident Recognition Award

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education.

Dr. Kyle Scheuerman

James H. Akers Memorial Award

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

Lexie Rasco

Outstanding Award for Magna Cum Laude Status

Elizabeth Gill