White Coat Ceremony to Welcome Class of 2014
At the Aug. 6 ceremony, first-year UA medical students will recite their class mission statement and don white coats for the first time, acknowledging their entrance into the medical profession.

By Jean Spinelli, Arizona Health Sciences Center
Aug. 4, 2010

A Nigeria native who works with neurologically challenged children and a teletrauma program coordinator who links University of Arizona trauma surgeons with rural hospitals in Southern Arizona are among the incoming students at the UA College of Medicine who will participate in the 16th annual White Coat Ceremony 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6 in Centennial Hall on the Tucson campus.

The president of the first class to graduate from the UA College of Medicine in 1971 will address the incoming Class of 2014. Neurosurgeon Dr. Volker K.H. Sonntag, vice chairman emeritus of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix and professor of clinical surgery at the UA College of Medicine, will deliver the keynote address, "The Privilege to Care."

As they embark on their quest to become the physicians of the future, 115 first-year UA medical students who will attend classes on the Tucson campus will recite their class mission statement and don white coats for the first time, acknowledging their entrance into the medical profession and the special bond they will have with patients, colleagues and teachers from the first day of medical school, Monday, Aug. 2.

Each coat will have a "Humanism in Medicine" lapel pin, symbolizing a commitment to providing compassionate and competent patient care, provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Nearly 650 students were interviewed to fill the 163 slots in the Class of 2014 (115 on the Tucson campus and 48 on the Phoenix campus). The class includes 53 women and 62 men, with an average age of 24 (the oldest, in Tucson, is 33). The average grade point average is 3.69 (out of 4.0); and 13 percent are underrepresented minorities.

Members of the Class of 2014 include:

George Hadeed, 26, was born in Mesa, Ariz. He graduated from the UA with a bachelor of science degree in molecular and cellular biology in 2006 and a master's degree in public health from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2008.

For the past two years, Hadeed has been a research fellow and coordinator for the Southern Arizona Telemedicine and Telepresence Program, which links trauma surgeons at the UA with seven rural hospitals in Southern Arizona. The program is one of the few in existence that brings live telepresence of trauma surgeons directly to rural hospitals in times of emergency through a series of computer networks and telemedicine systems.

Hadeed also has traveled to Kosovo and Macedonia as part of the International Virtual e-Hospital, or IVeH, Foundation, founded and led by UA professor of surgery Dr. Rifat Latifi to develop and support the medical infrastructure in developing countries through the application of telemedicine and e-health. Most recently, the IVeH team secured a $750,000 grant through the U.S. Agency for International Development to begin development of the Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health Program of Albania.

Though not yet certain which area of medicine he'll specialize in, Hadeed would like to apply the principles and practices of telemedicine to expand physician coverage into underserved areas.

Jolomi Iyoha, 23, was born in Benin City, Nigeria, and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., with her family when she was three. She attended Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and graduated from the UA in 2008 with a bachelor of science degree in biosystems engineering.

The third of four girls, she is the first in her family to go to medical school. She comes from a family of nurses, including her mother and oldest sister and her second oldest sister who currently is attending nursing school.

"I have the best family and extended family in the world. They have been supporting me every step of the way," she says.

Iyoha's desire to become a physician began during high school when her younger sister started having seizures. "It was a very tough period for my family," she recalls. "We saw a lot of doctors during that time, and they were all very knowledgeable and wise but more importantly they showed us such great compassion and support. I soon realized that I wanted to do the same for another family going through their darkest hour."

She is considering pursuing pediatrics because she loves working with children, although she is open to other areas of medicine. "One thing is certain – I plan on staying in Arizona after residency," she says. "I've lived here for more than 20 years, and I consider it my home."

Ryan Martinez, 29, was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After graduating from the UA in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in physiology, he pursued a master's in public health policy and management at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Martinez is the first in his family to attend college and will be the first doctor. His family encouraged him from childhood to do well in school.

When he was 14, he returned home from vacation with an appendix that had ruptured earlier that week, leading to infection. "I remember how great the staff were and how important my family and friends were to my recovery," he recalls. "I left the hospital with a desire to understand how the body works."

He hopes to become a surgeon and specialize in surgeries for children born with deformities in rural communities throughout Arizona.

Extra info


White Coat Ceremony, Class of 2014


Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., Tucson


5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6

The ceremony, which is for family and friends of incoming medical students, not the general public, will be broadcast live on the Internet at http://streaming.biocom.arizona.edu.

Dr. Volker K.H. Sonntag will present the Neurosurgery Grand Rounds at 8-9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 6 in the Arizona Cancer Center's Kiewit Auditorium. The talk, "The Frontier of Spinal Neurosurgery," which is open to the public, will be broadcast live and archived on the Internet at http://streaming.biocom.arizona.edu.




Resources for the media

Jean Spinelli

Arizona Health Sciences Center