SIU Medicine awards degrees at 2020 Commencement

Published Date:

May 13, 2020 – SPRINGFIELD - Seventy new physicians and a graduate student at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine achieved degrees Saturday, May 16, in the school’s virtual celebration of commencement (view the ceremony here). The event was doubly historic: The Class of 2020 included the medical school’s 3,000th graduate during its 50th anniversary year.

Following COVID-19 safety protocols, the School of Medicine announced its graduates via video on its Facebook page ( SIU School of Medicine Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, welcomed the students, and Erik Constance, MD, associate dean of student affairs, read the names of the graduates, who were presented degrees and “walked” across the virtual stage. Wendi El-Amin, MD, associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, offered a congratulatory message. Class Chair Aaron Hancock, MD, delivered remarks on behalf of the graduates.

A pair of medical school faculty members were also recognized during the annual event. The Class of 2020 selected Michael Sass, MD, (left) director of education in pathology, to receive the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Alumni Society Board of Governors at SIU School of Medicine chose Erik Constance, MD, (right) Class of 1988, to receive the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The new SIU physicians will begin residency training in their chosen specialties in July.

SIU Medicine’s mission is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community. Established in 1970, the medical school is based both in Carbondale and Springfield and is specifically oriented to educating new physicians prepared to practice in Illinois communities. With this commencement, 3,024 graduates have earned SIU medical degrees.

View the 2020 commencement recording at and graduate portraits at


Central Illinois MD graduates

Farris Abou-Hanna, son of Jeries and Khaula Abou-Hanna of Peoria 

Alexander Christensen, son of Dana and Elizabeth Christensen of Dunlap

Brendan Finnell, son of Roger and Julie Finnell of Springfield

David Forgas, spouse of Stephanie Forgas and son of Tim Forgas and Mary Cutler of Springfield 

Zachary Gao, son of Zhenqiang and Zhiping Gao of Springfield

Mackenzie Heywood, daughter of Brian and Shannon Heywood of Peoria 

Collin Innis, son of Pam Innis of Springfield and the late Gary Innis

Evan Jenkins, son of Dwight and Julia Jenkins of East Peoria

Nick Lanzotti, son of Dr. Daniel and Lisa Lanzotti of Springfield

Griffin Ludwig, son of Leo and Jennifer Ludwig of Springfield

Shelby Markel, daughter of Paul and Shelle Markel of Bunker Hill

Neil Parker, son of David and Kim Parker of Springfield

Joseph Pflederer, son of Ben and Jackie Pflederer of Morton

Kelly Schmidt, daughter of Scott and Shelley Schmidt of Litchfield

Jacob Standard, son of John and Grace Standard of Springfield

Brea Sturm, daughter of Ron Sturm and Tricia Malott-Sturm of Marquette Heights

Peyton Thomas, spouse of Chris Thomas and daughter of Joseph Crowe and Cindy McFarland of Athens 

Bradley Vost, son of James and Karen Vost of Springfield

Pete Wade, son of Tom and Nancy Wade of Winchester


Nihit Bhattarai received a master’s degree in Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. He is the son of Arjun Kumar and Meena Bhattarai.

NORTHERN Region Graduates

Nicholas Decker, son of Richard and Christine Decker of Peru

Dorene Hinton, daughter of Ray and Doris Hinton of Country Club

Steven Ippolito, son of Steve and Eva Ippolito of Fox River Grove

Riley Kraus, daughter of Dennis Kraus of Chana and Tammy Stowe of Kennesaw, Georgia

Abigail Levy, daughter of Rene Levy and Dr. Michelle Fouche-Levy of Steger

Dolapo Oseni, daughter of Tunji and Funmi Oseni of Chicago

Thomas Pumo, son of Theodore and Deborah Pumo of Ottawa

Aaron Sul, son of Ill Whan and Okhwa Sul of Des Plaines

Daniel Wooldridge, son of Mark and Hope Wooldridge of Plainfield

SOUTHERN Region Graduates

Jennifer Becker, daughter of Scott and Colleen Becker of St. Jacob

Joshua Brandon, son of Michael and Mary Ann Brandon of Carrier Mills 

Corey Culbreath, son of Brian and Dana Culbreath of Carterville

Jonathan Day, son of Richard Day and Jane Bechtold-Day of St. Elmo 

Lauren Grant, daughter of Tom and Wendy Grant of Edwardsville

Aaron Hancock, son of Barry and Jennifer Hancock of Marion  

Gary Hendricks, son of Kelly and Mary Hendricks of Mason

Tom Herrmann, son of Michael and Linda Herrmann of Belleville

Artemus Holguin-Mills-Hoffman, spouse of Nicholas Hoffman of Makanda  

Trevor Parr, son of Chuck and Susan Parr of Alton

Andrew Partain, son of Thomas and Donna Partain of Iuka  

Aaron Rea, son of Jim and Valrey Rea of Carterville

Samuel Richey, son of Mark and Karen Richey of Granite City

Nick Schlarman, son of Tom and Michelle Schlarman of Smithton

Kevin Schrader, son of Robert Schrader Karen Tilashalski of Edwardsville

Karie Schwertman, spouse of Christopher Schwertman and daughter of Frank and Debbie Hanfelder of Edwardsville and Kevin and Kelly Klette of Alhambra 

Christiana Stark, daughter of Timothy and Joan Stark of Urbana

Mason Tippy, son of Dave and Kay Tippy of Pomona

Blake Vest, son of Drs. Bruce and Kathy Vest of Godfrey


EASTERN  Region Graduates

Kyle Carver, son of Edward and Stephanie Carver of Champaign

Omar Dawood, son of Dr. Mohammed and Tanwear Dawood of Forsyth

Aaron Fleming, son of Steve and Jayme Fleming of Lovington

Allison Frey, daughter of David and Nancee Frey of Bloomington

Kaitlin Gibson, daughter of David and Loretta Gibson of Bloomington

Sheela Gogula, daughter of Ravi and Sarala Gogula of Champaign

Ben Hauter, son of Drs. Dru and Marcia Hauter of Kenney

Jennifer Hill, daughter of John and Laura Hill of Urbana

Patrick Long, son of Jeffery and Diane Long of Herscher

Marissa Kircher Nugent, spouse of Clint Nugent and daughter of Myron and Kathryn Kirchner of Oconee  

Susan Oo, daughter of Sonny and Saw Oo of Bourbonnais

Ryan Scribner, son of Tom and Carla Scribner of Decatur

Warren Skoza, son of Tom and Jean Skoza of Champaign


WESTERN Region Graduates

Kyle Gollon, son of Jeff and Cheryl Gollon of East Moline

McKenna Murphy, daughter of Jim and Lori Murphy of Quincy

Catherine Richards, daughter of Robert Richards Rosanne Bonebrake of Quincy

Lacey Rokita, daughter of Mike and Rita Rokita of Quincy

Brody Stewart, spouse of Sarah Stewart and son of Gary and Suzanne Stewart of Dahinda


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