Warwick Evans Celebrates Student Achievements in Academics, Service and Leadership

Individuals stand onstage while an audience looks on
The annual Warwick Evans Awards Ceremony celebrates student achievements in academics, service and leadership and also features a student speaker, selected by the graduating class, to give a special address.

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(May 18, 2019) — The historic Gaston Hall was brimming with anticipation as members from the 167th Georgetown University School of Medicine graduating class, their families and friends gathered at this year’s Warwick Evans Awards Ceremony to celebrate the students’ accomplishments.

“This evening, we wish to pay tribute to members of the Class of 2019 in the presence of family and friends,” said Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA, dean for medical education. “We continue to marvel at your capacity for work and study, and congratulate you on such high levels of academic achievement.”

Six individuals stand side by side
William (Billy) Hoffman (M’19), the Warwick Evans student speaker, poses with his family at the 2019 ceremony in Gaston Hall.

Among this year’s award recipients was William (Billy) Hoffman (M’19), the student selected by his peers to speak at the ceremony.

Hoffman, author of the novel Wings of Deceit, came to Georgetown from the University of North Dakota where he was a member of the Air Force ROTC program. Given Georgetown’s rich history in military medicine, Hoffman knew he wanted to pursue his medical education on the Hilltop and was accepted as a member of the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).

Hoffman was humbled and excited when he learned that his classmates had selected him to give the address. “It’s an unbelievable privilege and extremely humbling to know that my classmates trust me to try to put into words the collective sentiment of the class,” Hoffman said prior to the event.

“It’s hard to convey how good Georgetown has been to me,” he added. “I am so tremendously grateful for the administration, mentors and wonderful friends. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate.”

A Special Gift for Graduation

While Hoffman credits the military medicine community, mentors, faculty and friends for his positive experiences at Georgetown, he shared one particular example that brings his gratitude into focus.

During the study period for the Step 1 exam in his second-year, Hoffman’s mother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Eighteen months later, during his fourth year, she was in hospice and Hoffman was granted permission to study remotely to take care of her in Minnesota.

Knowing that Hoffman’s mother may not be there to attend graduation in the spring, faculty members at the School of Medicine, led by Marian Wulf-Gutierrez, MD, associate dean for clinical education and professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, volunteered to conduct an early, remote graduation ceremony using video conferencing so that Hoffman’s mother would be able to see him graduate.

“It came from the administration, not me,” he said. “It was just unbelievable. They excused several of my close friends from their clerkship duties. My wife was given a dean’s parking spot. Dean Furlong let me borrow her regalia to bring back home with me. It was overwhelming and beautiful. I will never forget it in a million years,” he said.

Human First, Physician Second

Billy Hoffman speaks at a podium while professors in academic regalia sit behind him
Hoffman emphasizes the importance of kindness, humility and humanism in medicine during the 2019 Warwick Evans address.

During his address at Warwick Evans, Hoffman spoke about his mother and highlighted one specific encounter that made the biggest impact on him as a medical student.

Shortly after her diagnosis, he and his family attended her first appointment and the doctor was incredibly patient and kind.

“She sat with us and got the full story and understood what was going on with my mom’s cancer in the context of her life,” he said. “It was a really vulnerable, human moment.”

As it turned out, the person they had been speaking with was a first- or second-year resident. Hoffman shared with his fellow classmates that his mother never forgot the resident’s kindness and emphasized the important role they were about to play in the lives of their patients.

“Someone who had such a lasting impact on my mom in her darkest moment could be any of us in just a few weeks. I’m humbled by the opportunity we will have to touch people’s lives,” Hoffman said. “In sickness, a doctor becomes a guide and, at medicine’s limit, I’ve come to find that being a physician means being less of a scientist and more of a human.”

Celebrating Academic Achievements and Commitment to Service

In addition to delivering the student address, Hoffman was also awarded the Edward B. Healton, MD, Clinical Scholar Award for his academic performance in neurology, the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award and the Jesuit Leadership and Service Award. He will be completing his active duty residency in neurology at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

A woman accepts a medal from a man in academic regalia
Christine Papastamelos (M’19) receives the Kober Award for having the highest overall record of academic performance.

While being awarded the Family Medicine Community Service Award for his leadership in advancing community health partnerships, Johan Clark (M’19) shared a special moment on stage with his father, Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc., dean for research, who co-presented the award. Clarke will be completing his residency at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in family medicine.

In addition to the Kober Award for the highest overall record of academic performance in the graduating class, Christine Papastamelos (M’19) received the Mario and Mollari Award for microbiology and immunology, the Frank G. Standaert Award for pharmacology and the Milton Corn, MD, Award given to the student with the highest academic performance at the end of three complete years. Papastamelos will be completing her residency at University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in internal medicine.

View a full list of 2019 Warwick Evans awardees.

Giuliana Cortese
GUMC Communications

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