Students, Residents, Faculty Recognized at Virtual Ceremony

golden apple

This year’s Virtual Student Recognition Ceremony and the Golden Apple Awards presented by the Creighton University School of Medicine – Phoenix Regional Campus was done virtually through a Zoom conference call.

The event honored outstanding students, residents and faculty chosen by medical students, medical school leadership and members of hospital departments where students completed clinical training all while acknowledging social distancing guidelines stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

“To my surprise, we found some advantages to doing it virtually,” said Randy Richardson, MD, dean of the Creighton University School of Medicine – Phoenix. “Students were able to express their sentiments throughout the ceremony with chat comments.”

Past ceremonies took place in Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center’s Sonntag Pavilion.

For the second consecutive year, the event offered a Special Recognition Award, which was presented to Heather Walker, simulation director of the Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital, for her work to maintain students’ capstone projects by transitioning it to a virtual process.

“With COVID-19 everything was cancelled,” Richardson said. “But Heather took the attitude that we didn’t need to cancel and that the capstone could be done virtually through Zoom and an avatar. In two weeks, she was able to put it together. The students completed everything for their projects, with the exception of the in-person physical exam.”

This year’s ceremony also saw the addition of an award for a Valleywise Health faculty member.

“Because our students still do the majority of their clinical training at St. Joseph’s, they don’t have a lot of opportunity to work with Valleywise faculty,” Richardson noted. “That will eventually change as the residency programs between the two hospitals merge.”

Following is the full list of honorees:

Department Student Awards (chosen by departments)

  • Outstanding Student in OB-GYN – Garrison Leach
  • Outstanding Student in Pediatrics – Justin Kochanski
  • Outstanding Student in Neurology – Shaida Omid
  • Outstanding Student in Internal Medicine – Matthew Borchart
  • Outstanding Student in Family Medicine – Anne Tang
  • Outstanding Student in Surgery – Andrew Mezher
  • Jason P Caplan Psychiatry Excellence Award – Allison Seats


Resident Teaching Scholar Awards (chosen by students)

  • Radiology – Joel Hayden, MD
  • OB-GYN – Kameron Firouzi, MD
  • Neurology – Danny Gonzalez, MD
  • Internal Medicine –Britney Bell, MD
  • Surgery – Mike Jones, MD
  • Pediatrics – Courtney Smith, MD
  • Psychiatry – Jacob DeMenna, MD
  • Family Medicine – Tyler Murphy, MD


Faculty Awards (chosen by students)

  • George B. Murray Award for Excellence in Psychiatry Education - Jose Urdaneta, MD
  • Outstanding Teacher in Ambulatory Primary Care - Jenna Sangkam, DO
  • James Mouer Excellence in Teaching (OB/GYN) - Mario Castellanos, MD
  • Distinguished Educator in Pediatrics - Stephanie Conrad, DO
  • The Golden Glove Award (Surgery) - Jordan Weinberg, MD
  • Outstanding Educator in Inpatient Medicine - Suzanne Plush-Hall, MD
  • Distinguished Teacher in Neurology - Courtney Schusse, MD
  • Valleywise Teacher of the Year – Sara Ashurst, MD


Golden Apple Awards (chosen by students)

M3 Class:

  • Student/Aesculapian - Cooper Nagaki 
  • Faculty/Golden Apple - Dr. Thomas Gillespie, MD
  • Outstanding Resident - Andrew Kinahan
  • Outstanding Staff - Xavier Torres 


M4 Class:

  • Student/Aesculapian - Kimberly Pham
  • Faculty/Golden Apple - Jordan Weinberg, MD
  • Outstanding Resident - Devin O’Connor
  • Outstanding Staff - Amber Streamland 


Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS)

Recognizes medical students, residents and faculty who practice patient-centered care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy. GHHS members are role models for humanistic care in their communities.

Elected as M3 Students

  • Joseph Brinkman
  • Kimberly Pham
  • Joel Eastes
  • Matthew Baer
  • Briggs Hoyt
  • Garrison Leach



  • Jeffrey Curtis, MD – Family Medicine



  • Nicholas Matthees, MD – PGY V – Diagnostic Radiology
  • Michael Jones, MD – PGY IV – General Surgery


Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AOA)

Honors scholastic excellence, integrity, capacity for leadership, compassion, and fairness in dealing with colleagues. 

Elected as M4s

  • Joseph Brinkman
  • Nathaniel Donnell
  • Jaclyn Lundberg
  • Andrew Mezher
  • Michael Raffetto 
  • Danica Seifert