On Friday, June 12 at 6 p.m., the department held its first completely virtual commencement ceremony to honor our immensely talented, dedicated, and resilient 2020 graduates. For this digital celebration, program directors filmed unique and personalized videos to recognize each member of the class of 2020. Many also filmed presentations of awards to residents and faculty, at times Zoom-bombing a meeting in order to surprise an unsuspecting award winner. 

The videos, along with photos taken over the past year, were featured in a visual presentation on the digital media platform Sutori.com. 

“Today we honor a truly remarkable and extraordinary group,” said Department Head Jim Pacala, MD, MS, in his welcome video remarks. “I commend you, not only on your accomplishments throughout your time here, but also on how you have navigated the past few months. You have shown incredible courage, grace, and, above all, a resilience well beyond what is typically expected on the path you have chosen.”

This year’s graduating class included:

  • 54 family medicine residents across our eight residencies

  • 2 doctors of pharmacy

  • 1 behavioral medicine fellow

  • 6 hospice and palliative medicine fellows

  • 3 human sexuality fellows, and

  • 2 sports medicine fellows

We also celebrated:

  • 9 faculty who completed the Teaching and Curriculum Development Program, and

  • 4 faculty who completed the Collaboration and Scholarship Intensive for Family Medicine Program

You may view the commencement program here.

A number of our graduates and faculty were honored for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

STFM Resident Teacher Awards

Eight residents received the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Resident Teacher Award for demonstrated interest, ability, and commitment to family medicine. The STFM Award is presented to residents from each of the eight residency programs who best demonstrate interest in and commitment to family medicine education. 

This year's awardees included:

  • Cameron Blegen, MD, of St. John’s

  • Lucas Boyle, MD, of North Memorial

  • Benjamin Dummer, MD, of Duluth

  • Jeremiah Fairbanks, DO, of Mankato

  • Tyler Lacey, MD, of Methodist

  • Mitchell Mock, MD, of UMN Medical Center

  • Christina Werman, DO, of St. Joseph’s

  • Zareen Zaka, MBBS, of St. Cloud

Excellence in Scholarship Award

This award is bestowed upon a graduating resident who has excelled in research and scholarly activities during residency. This year the award went to Jeremiah Fairbanks, DO, of Mankato. Dr. Fairbanks’s research has been judged as outstanding due to the breadth and extent of his scholarly pursuits; his clear commitment to evidence-based medicine; and his harmonized clinical, educational, and scholarly work. 

Fellow nominees included:

  • Dennis Ea, MD, of St. Joseph’s

  • Amanda Honsvall-Hoefler, MD, of Methodist

  • Ebiere Okah, MD, of North Memorial

Leonard P. Burke, MD, Memorial Award

The Leonard P. Burke, MD, Memorial Award is awarded to a graduating resident whose family medicine training has resulted in a unique service contribution during residency training. This year Betlehem Semahge, MD, received the award for her steady leadership and thoughtful approach to health equity, which has resulted in significant positive changes to St. Joseph’s residency program and Bethesda Family Medicine Clinic. 

Fellow nominees included:

  • Anne Doering, MD, of North Memorial

  • Allison Juba, DO, of Duluth

  • Benjamin Rosenstein, MD, MA, of St. John’s

Faculty Awards

This year’s Faculty Teaching Award was presented to Timothy Ronneberg, MD, who provides “an invaluable presence at St. John’s for residents, patients, and colleagues,” as stated in the submitted nominations. 

Our recipient of this year’s Affiliate Teaching Award, Caitlin Bakker, MLIS, who was also surprised with her award in the middle of an ostensible planning meeting, received the honor for being a devoted teacher who contributes her amazing talents and skills to the department. 

Congratulations to all graduates! You can get a sense of what the virtual event felt like by viewing posts that used our graduation hashtag, #UMNFamilyMedGrad.