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SIU Medicine Holds 43rd Commencement

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Sixty-three physicians and four graduate students at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine received their diplomas on Saturday, May 20, in the Sangamon Auditorium at University of Illinois Springfield during the school’s 43rd commencement.

This year’s commencement speaker was Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, PhD, immediate past president of the American Public Health Association. Jones’ work focuses on the impact of racism on the health and well-being of the nation. A family physician and epidemiologist, she seeks to broaden the national health debate to include universal access to high quality health care, social determinants of health and social determinants of equity.

Jones charged the Class of 2017 to “be courageous, be curious and be citizens.”

“Being courageous includes being unafraid of controversy,” Jones said. “If somebody offers you the opportunity to do something and you’re not quite sure you can do it, say yes, because the person offering you that opportunity already knows what you may not know about yourself, that you will be successful. So embrace challenge. Forge your own path.”

During the ceremony, Class of 2017 Chair Sean Murray of Lake Villa delivered remarks on behalf of the graduates. Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, awarded diplomas to the medical students, and SIU Chancellor Brad Colwell conferred the degrees.

Several students and faculty members received awards. SIU Medicine dean and provost emeritus J. Kevin Dorsey, MD, PhD, received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Class of 1987 alumna Janet Albers, MD, chair of the SIU Department of Family and Community Medicine, received the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes for their outstanding contributions to medicine and distinguished service to humankind. Assistant Professor Sabha Ganai, MD, PhD, FACS, director of gastrointestinal oncology at the Simmons Cancer Institute, and Class of 2017 graduate Jordan Lange, MD, received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards, presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

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 in Carbondale and Springfield and is specifically oriented to educating new physicians prepared to practice in Illinois communities. Since 1975, 2,754 physicians, plus the 2017 graduates, have earned SIU medical degrees.

View the 2017 commencement at, or see pictures at

Portraits of the graduates are available at:

Medical Student Graduates

Lindsey Atwood, MD, daughter of John and Mary Atwood of Springfield

Carolyn Ayers, MD, daughter of Rocky and Gracie Ayers of Bloomington

Jeala Barnett, MD, daughter of James and Linda Barnett of Birmingham, Ala.

Austin Beason, MD, son of Larry and Tracy Beason of Mattoon

Benjamin Beggs, MD, son of Samuel and Mary Beggs of Harrisburg

Michael Bernhardt, MD, son of Thomas and Joan of Bloomington

Mitchell Binkley, MD, son of Tod and Linda Binkley of Forreston

Brittany Blaise, MD, daughter of John and Jean Koch of Carbondale

Erica Bohmer, MD, daughter of Mike and Sandy Wood of Granite City

Stephen Brandt, MD, son of Jim and Maureen Brandt of Bloomington

Ashley Byrd, MD, daughter of Mike and Glenda Jameson of Granite City

Sofia Candel, MD, daughter of Antimo and Maria Pilar Candel of Burr Ridge

Alex Cavender, MD, son of Jeff and Trisha Cavender of Momence

Judith Chatto, MD, daughter of Eladio and Marili Chatto of Rosiclare

Erik Curry, MD, son of David Curry of Reynolds and the late Rosemary Curry

Shawn Curry, MD, son of Larry and Marta Curry of Bridgeport

Melissa Dodds, MD, daughter of Ed and Theresa Englert of Chana

Kathleen Ehlers, MD, daughter of Susan Campbell of Westmont

Patrick Fitzgerald, MD, son of Mike and Sue Fitzgerald of Godfrey

Michael Ginnetti, MD, son of Richard and Andrea Ginnetti of Bloomington

Jenna Goeckner, MD, daughter of Kent and Susan Goeckner of Effingham

Jason Han, MD, son of John and Jane Han of Bloomington

Kristin Hertweck, MD, daughter of Walter Terry of Marissa and Linda Beierman of Belleville

Frank Hurd, MD, son of Martin and Lagrimas Hurd of Morton

Markesha Jones, MD, daughter of Shirley Jones of Jackson, Miss., and the late Marvin Jones

Tyler Jones, MD, son Phillip and Lynn Jones of Salem

Brock Kabat, MD, son of Mark and Lori Kabat of Scheller

Thomas Kates, MD,  son Tim and Lisa Kates of Herscher

Kristen Kirby, MD, daughter of Phillip and Roslyn Kirby of Richmond, Va.

Samantha Koenig, MD, daughter of Kevin and Suzette Cravens of Geneseo

Alexander Kurdi, MD, of Urbana

Alex Lane, MD, son of Dr. Charles and Robyn Lane of Edwardsville

Jordan Lange, MD, son of David and Rise Lange of Champaign

Cory Malone, MD, son of Greg and Betty Malone of Columbia

Kyle McCullough, MD, son of Michael and Gayle of Decatur

Hossain Mesbah, MD, son of Bedi and Zohreh Mesbah of Springfield

Danielle Miller, MD, daughter of Rod and Andrea Miller of Germantown Hills

Alejandro Montoya, MD, son of Edmundo and Sandra of Elmwood

Jasmine Moreno, MD, daughter of Efren and Martha Moreno of Chicago

Kyle Morgenstern, MD, son of David and Becki Morgenstern of East Peoria

BreeAnna Murphy, MD, daughter of Bill and Teena Groves of Springfield

Jacquelyne Murray, MD, daughter of Ken Mool of Panola and Kim Scott of Peoria

Sean Murray, MD, son of John Murray of Round Lake and Kelly Murray of Lake Villa

Evyn Neumeister, MD, daughter of Dr. Michael and Nadine Neumeister of Springfield

T Lydel Newsome, MD, son of Cemora Newsome-Carter of Laurel, Md.

Max Nutt, MD, son of Mike and Andrea Nutt of Springfield

Jordan Orr, MD, daughter of Bill and Sherri Orr of Reddick

Nitin Rao, MD, son of Lakshman Rao and Dharma Deekshitha Rao of Decatur

Abbey Rocco, MD, daughter of Jeff and Jackie Rocco of Springfield

Katherine Schlepphorst, MD, daughter of Dr. Richard and Sandy Schlepphorst of Quincy

Robert Schnietz, MD, son of Robert and Alina Schnietz of Edwardsville

Kate Lowe-Schroter, MD, daughter of Barry and Kathy Lowe of Bloomington

Rachel Segal, MD, daughter of Gary and Randi Segal of Rock Island

Jantsen Smith, MD, son of Robert and Kimberly Smith of Harrisburg

Matthew Soltys, MD, son of Dr. Stephen and Karen Soltys of Springfield

Daniel Summers, MD, son of William and Linda Summers of Nashville

Alan Sutton, MD, son of Ken and Alma Sutton of Burlington, Iowa

Laura Swale, MD, daughter of Jerry and Beth of Bourbonnais

Christopher Tookey, MD, son of Keith and Gerry Tookey of Washington

Benjamin Voss, MD, son of Ron and Diane Voss of Mascoutah 

Erik Wright, MD, son of Mark and Mary Jo Wright of Freeport

Aishah Yanssaneh, MD, daughter of Abubakarr Yanssaneh and Brenda Roache of Silver Springs, Md.


Graduate Students

Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Vikrant Nandlal Ratna Borse, PhD, of Kalyan, Maharashtra, India

Srinivasa Prasad Kommajosyula, PhD, of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Aarushi Sharma, PhD, of New Delhi, Delhi, India

Master of Science in Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology

Pooja Sridhar Joshi, MS, of Bangalore, India

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