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OHSU celebrates more than 1,200 new graduates

June 7 convocation first step in advancing human health in post-pandemic world
close up shot of the corner of a mortarboard with a 2020 charm on the tassel
Virtual convocation ceremonies will be held for the 1,215 degrees awarded to students graduating from OHSU this month. (Getty Images)

A new generation of health care professionals, educators and researchers are graduating from OHSU this month. A total of 1,215 degrees will be awarded.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all ceremonies are being held virtually, with the all-school convocation starting online at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 7. The featured speaker will be Joan Y. Reede, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., M.B.A., who is the dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School.

Separate ceremonies for the schools of medicine, dentistry and nursing, as well as the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will take place online at 11 a.m. the same day. The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health’s online ceremony will be a week later, at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 14.

To share the virtual celebration with their classmates, graduates are encouraged to use #OHSUgrad2020, #OHSUgrad, #OHSUclassof2020 and #OHSU when posting about their personal graduation festivities on social media.

“At a pace that few could have imagined, COVID-19 has changed the way we live, learn and work,” said OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS. “Although enhancing the health and well-being of others has long provided health care professionals, educators and researchers with purpose and drive, this pandemic has placed a global spotlight on our efforts, and the next generation of OHSU graduates will play a critical role in advancing human health in a post-pandemic world.”

The OHSU School of Dentistry will award 92 degrees this year.

“For more than 120 years, the OHSU School of Dentistry has had the honor of graduating leaders in their respective fields,” said Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. “Our graduates represent the bright future of oral health care, exhibiting compassion and impeccable clinical skills. There is no doubt that the class of 2020 will continue this long-lived tradition.”

The OHSU School of Medicine will award 453 degrees and certificates.

"It is customary and fitting for leaders to tell graduates to go forth and do good. This year we must also pause and reflect on a period that has been like no other. For our graduating students, the pandemic cut short clinical rotations, shut many out of their labs and disrupted time-honored traditions from Match Day to dissertation defense," said Sharon Anderson, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. "It is my hope that, in a hundred smaller yet meaningful ways this Sunday, our students will still mark this important rite of passage. And then I ask that they go forth and not only do good but help us bring about the changes required to provide even better care for all of our patients and communities going forward."

The OHSU School of Nursing will award 502 degrees and certificates.

“OHSU School of Nursing takes great pride in our graduates, those entering nursing and those advancing in nursing. These graduates will improve health and health care for all Oregonians, through addressing health disparities, offering high-quality clinical care, leadership, science and educating future generations,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, dean of the OHSU School of Nursing. “In 2020, the WHO International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we are especially mindful of our vital work to educate nurses across the state and in rural and urban areas, to meet the needs of Oregon.”

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will award 89 degrees and certificates.

“The graduates of the class of 2020 are entering the public health field at a very critical time for Oregon and our nation,” said David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “As a public health school, it is our responsibility to recognize and respond to the devastating impacts that systemic racism, oppression and state-sanctioned violence have on the safety, security and health of communities of color. 

“And, at a time when we are also facing one of the greatest health threats of our lifetimes in COVID-19, the Black community and other marginalized populations –  people who are immigrants, indigenous peoples, all people of color, people who are older, people of differing abilities, people of various gender identities and sexual orientation, those who live in poverty or without secure housing – are also disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of their health outcomes and their socio-economic wellbeing. 

"We need future public health leaders now more than ever. We need public health practitioners, scientists and educators to move upstream to confront the legacy of these injustices at the population level, address the social determinants of health, reverse the toxic stress of racism and other forms of hatred and solve the problems of tomorrow that we do not yet realize today. These graduates are our future health and well-being.”

The OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will award 79 degrees.

“On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, we are extremely proud to congratulate the Class of 2020 on their achievements,” said Grace Kuo, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., dean of the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy. “They are entering the profession at a very critical time to work at the frontlines of the pandemic. Completing the training at both OSU and OHSU has prepared them to become significant inter-professional team members and make impactful contributions for patient/public health care in all practice settings. This is also an exciting time as the scope of practice for pharmacists continues to expand. Their hard work and commitment to patient care has prepared them to advance the profession of pharmacy and become creative leaders.”

Meet some of OHSU’s 2020 graduates

Zanyar Darvishi, D.M.D.
Zanyar Darvishi, D.M.D.

Zanyar Darvishi, D.M.D. – OHSU School of Dentistry 

Ten years ago, Zanyar Darvishi came to the United States on his own from Iran. He learned English by attentively listening to his professors and peers as a chemistry and biology student at Portland Community College and Portland State University.

During their last year of high school, Iranian students take an exam to determine their area of study in college. Darvishi was placed in a civil engineering program as a result of that test. He loves science and math, but wanted another path, so he came to the United States to pursue dentistry.

Darvishi sees dentistry as a combination of science, art and helping people. He is excited to become the first dentist in his family. While his father worked in an office, one sister is an accountant and another teaches English.

Darvishi’s mother passed away when he was 15 years old, leaving his father to raise three children. “He’s my source of encouragement. His patience, understanding and belief have helped shape my personality,” Darvishi said of his father.

“Thank you to all of my faculty over the past four years. I was lucky to have them as mentors, instructors, and true supporters,” he said, specifically thanking Richard Knight D.M.D., Franci Stavropoulos, D.D.S., and Rose McPharlin, D.D.S.

Darvishi will join the OHSU School of Dentistry’s General Practice Residency Program, which introduces dental graduates to adult hospital practice. He also plans to pursue an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program, so he can become an oral surgeon.

Zoe Teton, M.D.
Zoe Teton, M.D.

Zoe Teton, M.D. – OHSU School of Medicine

Zoe Teton remembers the rainy fall evening during her first year of medical school when she joined students and faculty from OHSU, Portland State University and Oregon State University to tour sites where the Portland nonprofit Transition Projects serves individuals experiencing homelessness.

It was a catalytic moment where their service-oriented interests clicked with the nonprofit’s request to offer basic medical care to its clients: the seeds for the Bridges Collaborative Care Clinic were sown. For Teton, becoming a founding leader of the clinic in September 2017 was her chance to build on work she began in Santa Barbara, California, as a volunteer on a street medicine team.

Today the Bridges clinic is the first multi-university and multidisciplinary student-run health care nonprofit in Oregon. Through the clinic, students from 10 health professions programs across OHSU, PSU and OSU serve Transition Projects clients. Though clinic members haven’t been able to see patients during the pandemic, they have sewn masks and delivered care packages to vulnerable communities.

“I am especially proud that we (as students!) have created something that will hopefully be around long after I am gone, something sustainable, for the benefit of a population we were all so passionate about serving,” Teton said. “Now future clinic leaders have this foundation to expand upon with the shared goal of improving healthcare access in our underserved communities.”

Now Teton plans to integrate her health equity work into her eventual practice as a neurosurgeon. The specialty combines her long-time fascination with the brain and her attraction to surgery. She also took nine months off from medical school to complete an OHSU neurosurgery research fellowship and intends to become a physician-scientist. She will do her residency training at UCLA.

Jadie Wick, R.N., M.S.N.
Jadie Wick, R.N., M.S.N.

Jadie Wick, R.N., M.S.N. – OHSU School of Nursing 

Already a registered nurse since 2016, Jadie Wick, of Hermiston, was inspired to earn an advanced nursing degree by the nurse practitioners in her rural northeastern Oregon community who provided her family primary care as she grew up.

“Nurse practitioners are the main providers and fill in a gap here,” Wick explained. “Rural areas lack a lot of the health care choices that exist in the big cities.”

She is earning a master’s degree in nursing after completing the family nurse practitioner program at the OHSU School of Nursing’s La Grande campus.

While completing the program, she has also worked as a part-time nurse in the emergency department of a Hermiston hospital and at a local family medicine clinic.

During the pandemic, Wick has served as a dedicated nurse to coronavirus patients in the emergency department. And she responds to phone calls the clinic receives from concerned patients seeking information about COVID-19. The experience has helped her view telehealth as a good way to reach patients in rural areas.

Wick plans to serve as a nurse practitioner at a local clinic upon passing her board exams and earning her state license this summer.

“I hope to become a practitioner who listens to her patients and provide holistic care to all age groups,” she said.

Sarah Siegel, Ph.D.
Sarah Siegel, Ph.D.

Sarah Siegel, Ph.D. – OHSU-PSU School of Public Health 

The path to a Ph.D. in epidemiology has been a long and circuitous for Sarah Siegel. Originally from Massachusetts, Siegel earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in materials science and engineering, with a minor in biomedical engineering. She worked at Hewlett Packard, where she saw fabrication operators working 12-hour shifts while standing on their feet and doing repetitive movements.

“It was shocking how poor the majority of operators’ health was, with most of their physical issues stemming from the type of work being done,” Siegel said.

She proposed moving a piece of equipment 20 feet, demonstrating the move’s $1 million price tag would be offset by amount of time and worker compensation costs saved. Siegel said being able to move the equipment was a transformational, empowering moment that allowed her to affect evidence-based change.

Wanting to further impact other’s health, she volunteered at Seattle Children’s Hospital while taking an epidemiology class at University of Washington. She was hooked, and started a master’s and then a doctorate program at the School of Public Health.

Siegel’s expertise is infectious diseases and psoriasis. Many of the newer psoriatic therapies disrupt pathways in an individual’s immune response to clear skin lesions. But this can also increase the risk of infection. Siegel wrote her dissertation to outline evidence for infectious risks by psoriasis therapy types.

“Psoriasis felt like an orphaned disease that was not given the same gravitas that rheumatoid arthritis or other similar indications had received,” Siegel said. “Being able to add to the literature and give clinicians much-needed data on the risks of biologic therapies provides a service to an under-represented group.”

Siegel has accepted a senior research associate position at OHSU, where she hopes to continue researching pharmacoepidemiology and create evidence-based change in infectious diseases.

Van Anh Vu, Pharm.D.
Van Anh Vu, Pharm.D.

Van Anh Vu, Pharm.D. – OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy 

Van Anh Vu came to the U.S. at the age 11 from Oslo, Norway, where she was born to Vietnamese boat refugees. Her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic early on, reminding her of their escape from a war-torn country and search for a better future.

She grew up in Portland, where she shadowed a pharmacist who showed her how to dose vancomycin using calculus. Because math and chemistry were her favorite subjects in high school, this experience solidified her career choice.

As a 12th-grader, she was accepted into the College of Pharmacy as part of the college’s Early Assurance Program and completed her bachelor’s degree in biohealth sciences and international studies at Oregon State University. As part of her undergraduate studies, Vu studied global health in Geneva, Switzerland, where she learned what it meant to be a United Nations pharmacist during the Syrian refugee crisis.

When she returned to the U.S., she enrolled in the college’s dual Pharm.D./M.B.A. program. As a pharmacy intern, Vu served patients of all backgrounds and grew to love direct patient care.

“Becoming a pharmacist was the best decision that I have ever made,” Vu said. “Receiving the honor to graduate early to help those in true need of health care in the midst of a pandemic defines what it means to become a health care professional. As a pharmacist, I am able to advance health care alongside other professionals and make an impact on patients’ lives every day.”

Given the pressing need for health care workers during the pandemic, Vu is among 85% of the college’s Class of 2020 who were able to graduate early on May 6 and prepare to take their licensing exams earlier than usual. She will be a graduate intern with Fred Meyer in Portland.

Anastasia Bennett, Erin Hoover-Barnett, Franny White, Beth Sorenson and Jin Ballew contributed to this report.


OHSU 2020 Degree Data

Total degrees given during 2019-20 school year: 1,215

OHSU School of Dentistry – 92 total degrees

Doctor of Dental Medicine – 75

Master of Science – 7

Advanced Education – 10

OHSU School of Medicine – 453 total degrees and certificates

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) – 140

Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (M.D./M.P.H.) – 4

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – 25

  • Behavioral Neuroscience – 3
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – 1
  • Biomedical Engineering – 3
  • Biomedical Informatics – 3
  • Cancer Biology – 3
  • Cell & Developmental Biology – 1
  • Computer Science & Engineering – 2
  • Environmental Science & Engineering - 1
  • Medical Physics – 1
  • Microbiology – 2
  • Molecular & Medical Genetics – 1
  • Neuroscience – 3
  • Physiology & Pharmacology – 1

Master’s degrees – 63

  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics & Computational Biomedicine – 7
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering – 1
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics – 2
  • Master of Science in Computer Science & Engineering – 3
  • Master of Science in Environmental Science & Engineering – 1
  • Master of Science in Health & Clinical Informatics – 10
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management – 23
  • Master of Science in Human Nutrition – 11
  • Master of Science in Medical Physics – 5
  • Master of Biomedical Informatics – 5
  • Master of Business Administration – 44
  • Master of Clinical Research – 16
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies – 43

Graduate certificates – 33

  • Biomedical Informatics – 7
  • Dietetic Internship – 6
  • Health & Clinical Informatics – 5
  • Healthcare Management – 5
  • Human Investigations Program – 10

Bachelor’s degrees – 49

  • Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science – 40
  • Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy – 6

Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic – 24

OHSU School of Nursing – 502 total degrees and certificates

Doctor of Nursing Practice – 38

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – 3

Post-Master certificate – 5

Master’s degrees – 89

  • Master of Nursing in Adult Gerontology Acute Care – 9
  • Master of Nursing in Family Nurse Practitioner – 24
  • Master of Nursing in Health Systems & Organizational Leadership – 3
  • Master of Nursing in Nurse Anesthesia – 9
  • Master of Nursing in Nursing Education – 8
  • Master of Nursing in Nurse Midwifery – 11
  • Master of Nursing in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – 13
  • Master of Nursing in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – 12

Bachelor of Science – 367

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health – 89 total degrees and certificates

Doctorate degrees – 5

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology – 2
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Systems & Policy – 3

Master’s degrees – 79

  • Master of Science in Biostatistics – 8
  • Master of Science in Health Studies – 1
  • Master of Public Health in Epidemiology – 21
  • Master of Public Health in Environmental Systems & Human Health – 9
  • Master of Public Health in Health Management & Policy – 17
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion – 18
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion and Social Work – 1
  • Master of Public Health in Primary Health & Health Disparities – 1
  • Master of Public Health Practice – 3

Certificates – 5

  • Certificate in Biostatistics – 2
  • Certificate in Public Health – 3

OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy – 79 total degrees

  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) – 79
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