New Physicians Honored At Southern Illinois University School Of Medicine

Submitted by SIU School Of Medicine
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SPRINGFIELD - New physicians at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine received their diplomas Saturday, May 18, at the school’s 50th annual commencement. The ceremony at the Performing Arts Center at the University of Illinois Springfield celebrated the achievements of the graduates and featured speeches from faculty members, alumni and administrators.

A total of 79 learners received medical degrees, and one student received a master’s degree. It was the school’s largest class of graduating physicians ever. It included SIU's charter class of Lincoln Scholars, who completed four years of medical training focused on rural health care in downstate communities.

SIU School of Medicine Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, awarded diplomas to the medical students, and Daniel Mahony, PhD, president of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, conferred the degrees. John Mellinger

John Mellinger, MD, was the commencement speaker. Mellinger?is vice president of the American Board of Surgery and professor emeritus in SIU Medicine’s Departments of Surgery and Medical Education. He touched upon the importance of discipline, altruism and a focus on meaning as the young physicians embark on their new careers.

A doctor should have a deeper sense of purpose in their work beyond titles, awards and reputation, Mellinger said. Recognize the nobility in service, in treating patients with empathy and compassion, especially those who are marginalized or overlooked.

“The beauty of your professional calling is that you will be able to do this daily. My advice would be to lean into this every chance your energies allow.... Help a nurse make up a soiled bed, get a patient a glass of water, notice the grieving loved one at a bedside, and take your hand off the doorknob. Sit down and be silent and present with them."

Joey Maiocco

Class of '24 Chair Giuseppe Maiocco, MD, recounted the trials faced by the class due to the pandemic but emphasized their resilience and adaptability. He also highlighted the class's commitment to friendship and cohesiveness, a testament to their ability to maintain strong interpersonal bonds amidst adversity.

"We had to acknowledge that there was no script to follow, that we could wallow or roll up our sleeves, that we possessed in ourselves the ability to craft our own experiences, to meet our own goals, to become our own advocates. There is no better lesson than to find you have agency despite difficult circumstance."

Alumni, faculty members and a graduating student received awards during the ceremony.

Dr. Kulacz

Jeremy Kulacz, MD, an assistant professor of neurology, received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Gold Humanitarians Dr. Siebenaler & Dr. Dozier

Pediatric hospitalist Mary Siebenaler, MD, and Class of 2024 graduate Peaches Dozier, MD, received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards, presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

2024 Distinguished Alums Drs. Gaines, LaFrence, Khan

Three alumni were honored: Sam Gaines, MD (’77), 2024 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award; Alison LaFrence, MD (’88), 2024 Distinguished Alumni Service Award; and Mohsin Khan, MD, (’16); Early Career Achievement Award.

SIU Medicine’s mission is to optimize the health of the people of central and southern Illinois through education, patient care, research and service to the community. Established in 1970, the medical school is based dually in Carbondale and Springfield and is specifically oriented to educating new physicians prepared to practice in Illinois communities. Since 1975, 3,311 physicians have earned SIU medical degrees.

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

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SIU School of Medicine MD graduates from Southern Illinois


• Kathryn Besserman | Jeffrey and Debra Besserman | Collinsville | Orthopaedic Surgery | U Kansas SOM-Kansas City

• Logan Cole | Benjamin and Laura Cole | Granite City | Family Medicine I SIU SOM & Affil Hosps-IL

• Drew Conner | Eric and Sara Conner | Nashville | Radiology-Diagnostic I SIU SOM & Affil Hosps-IL

• Jane Crabtree-Marty | Dr. Travis and Felicia Crabtree | Edwardsville | General Surgery | SIU SOM & Affil Hosps-IL

• Emily Dircks | Lon and Kim Dircks | Freeburg | Family Medicine | University Hosps-Columbia-MO

• Madison Funneman | Richard and Theresa Funneman | Greenville | Family Medicine | SIU Carbondale-IL

• Morgan Keyser | Brad and Leigh Ann Keyser | Marion | Pediatrics | U Illinois COM-Peoria OSF

• Abigail Knuckles | Don and Gina Knuckles | Waterloo | Obstetrics-Gynecology SM Health/St Louis Univ SOM-MO

• Blake Laird | Kevin and Sheila Laird + spouse MacKenzie Kellogg | New Baden | Family Med/Belleville SM Health/St Louis Univ SOM-MO

• Megan Mayville | John and Nadine Mayville | Belleville | Emergency Medicine SM Health/St Louis Univ SOM-MO

• Michael McGee | James and Cindy McGee | Marion | Emergency Med/Indianapolis | Indiana University SOM

• Shree Patel | Atul and Kanal Patel | O'Fallon | Internal Medicine | Emory Univ SOM-GA

• Randy Reeder | Michael and Mona Reeder | Cyprus | Pediatrics | Johns Hopkins All Childrens Hosp-FL

• Hunter Roller | James and Cynthia Roller | Troy | Medicine-Psychiatry | SIU SOM & Affil Hosps-IL

• Morgan Suhre | Blake and Kelly Suhre | Edwardsville | Pediatrics | Phoenix Childrens Hospital-AZ

• Allison Sweeney | Scott and Anita Sweeney | Belleville | Obstetrics-Gynecology | SIU SOM & Affil Hosps-IL

• Stephen Troop | Michael and Debra Troop | Marion | Pediatrics | University Hosps-Columbia-MO

• Noah Vallette | Jason and Kara Vallette | Harrisburg | Orthopedic Surgery | U Tennessee Health Sci Ctr-Memphis

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