Looking Back at the Class of 2020

For the RVUCOM and MSBS Class of 2020, the end of the academic year means preparing for graduation and looking ahead at residency plans and new and exciting opportunities. This year, to honor their time at RVU, we asked the graduates to share their favorite memories.

MSBS Program

Sofia Rahmanzai

Sofia poses with fellow classmates while they volunteer with Denver Rescue Mission.

“My favorite memories from RVU were all the personable interactions I’ve had with my classmates. The amount of support I have gained from them is incredibly overwhelming, and I always catch myself thinking how lucky I am to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people. The last-minute volleyball matches, late-night study sessions, fast food runs, and celebratory events will never be forgotten!”

COM Program

Tor Anderson

“My favorite memory of my time at RVU is our class. I feel very lucky to have been part of such a brilliant, compassionate, and cohesive group of people. We celebrated each others’ accomplishments as much as, if not more than, our own. There are countless examples of classmates helping one another, whether with the next big exam, the death of a loved one, or simply an exhausted sigh and eye-roll of solidarity.”

David Baldwin

“The consistent dedication to playing volleyball whenever there was a break and enough people to play. We knew how to have fun whenever there was an opportunity for it. The grass on the lawn still has not recovered.”

Daniel Brown


“Traveling to Ecuador on a medical mission during spring break of first year with many of my classmates.”

Beau Condie

Students play a friendly game of volleyball.

“Playing volleyball with a great group of friends in between study sessions and after exams.”

Charles Curtis

“Practicing and competing with RVU classmates in the 2018 AMSA National Patient Simulation Case challenge in Washington, D.C.”

 Michaeli Gorman

“Spending time with classmates, whether it be in Anatomy Lab or at their weddings, there truly was never a dull moment with this class.”

Nathan Gorman

“Taking tests in ski pants and going skiing right after the test was over.”

Brady Hansen

“The collective memories of camaraderie within our class. From day one to the present, our classmates have always stuck together, cared for one other, and pushed each other to become their best.”

Samuel Hart

“Meeting my girlfriend and growing through medical school together. Also, the Guatemala 2020 medical trip (serving others and making new friendships).”

Elizabeth (Avery) Hill

“Studying with Jenna Hoobler in our hammocks along the Cherry Creek Trail; being on a rotation with Phil Bennett and laughing on rounds with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Jolley as we wheeled around the snack wagon.”

Peter Huang

“Playing volleyball and spikeball between (and into) classes during first- and second-year. I am grateful for classmates who loved to have fun whenever possible.”

Torri Igou

Torri Igou poses with members of the Global Medicine Track.

“Being a part of the Global Medicine Track. I learned a ton of valuable information about underserved medicine that I will use throughout my career. Our trips to Kenya and Guatemala were something I will never forget! Not only were these amazing learning experiences, but these trips also allowed me to make amazing friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. Thank you [Dr. Camille Bentley] for making all this possible!”

Iman Isayli

“When my three closest friends brought a gift and card to class to surprise me and improve my mood when I was feeling particularly anxious as a second-year medical student. I will forever remember their kindness and consideration.”

Madisen Janssen

“Playing volleyball between classes, during lunch, after exams, all throughout the first and second year and building a community and making friends through this casual lunchtime activity, all under the Colorado sunshine.

Another one of my favorite memories includes the late nights studying in the library, in the study rooms, using the bouncy balls as seats, with my best friends.

Finally, a favorite memory of mine was learning how to make, and then serving a Midwestern classic: beef chili served on top of homemade cinnamon rolls, with Liz Tonniges for the [Days of Diversity International Feast of Flavors].”

Ria Joseph

Ria Joseph poses with classmates at Breckenridge Ski Resort. See more photos submitted by Ria Joseph at the end of this post.

“When I look back at my time at RVU, the most prominent memories will be of the people we all had the opportunity to surround ourselves with. Every single member of our class has something that makes them completely special and unique, and it was so fun to continuously discover those qualities over the past four years.

We are a group made up of artists, athletes, dreamers, adventurers, parents, musicians, free spirits, strong leaders, and truly some of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We will be a wave of compassionate physicians who are not afraid to lend a soothing touch to our patients and rock the boat a little to fight for what we believe in. I am incredibly proud to know you all and do not have a shred of doubt in my mind that we will all do great things for our patients and medicine as a whole. There is nobody else in this world I would rather learn the pelvic floor release with. CHEERS TO THE FUN CLASS!”

Kaia Jystad

Kaia Jystad assists in the delivery of a baby via C-section.

“I have had some of the most unique experiences of my life during my time at RVU. The Global Medicine Track facilitated some of my most profound experiences: traveling to Kenya to provide primary care for the Maasai tribe, working in the OB ward at Edna Adan’s University Hospital in Somaliland, and having the opportunity to first assist in surgeries at the Tribhuvan University Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal.”

Marina Leith

Marina Leith pets senior golden with the Denver Pet Partners program.

“Our class is my favorite part of being a student at RVU. I feel lucky to have gone through this journey with such a collaborative, fun, adventurous, resilient, and supportive group.”

Molly McLellan

“Dancing in a pizza restaurant in Ecuador, after a long day of work, as a first-year medical student.”

Adela Miller

“I have very fond memories of the endless hours spent with my group of friends that first year. Meeting up at coffee shops with blankets in hand because we would be spending our day studying in a store that blasted A/C. Hunkering down in an RVU study room where we started the morning as functioning humans and ended in a daze with the inability to find a comfortable body position. We would always find one another for a random dance party or a rollerblade ride when we needed a break from the endless hours of studying. I am thankful for such an amazing group of friends who supported each other through the ups and downs of medical school!”

Mia Nevala

“Some of my favorite memories from RVU were the many opportunities to get involved in the community with other students through campus club-sponsored activities.”

Lan-Uyen (Stephanie) Nguyen

“Getting together with my friends and classmates and eating/hanging out after nearly all of our exams! And working in Anatomy Lab on the cadavers with my awesome lab partners: Allison Guild, David Baldwin, and Corey Wasser!”

Kirstin Raguindin

Students play another game of volleyball.

“Playing volleyball every day at lunch and ultimate Frisbee most Saturdays during the first two years of school.”

Amelia Sneve

“When a professor played ‘I’m a Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child after our class finished MSK I. It was fitting :)” 

Clarke Snodgrass

Clarke Snodgrasse takes a selfie with Austin Forbes and Kaia Jystad. Read about their time at Edna Adan Hospital here.

“Spending a month in Somaliland rotating at Edna Adan Hospital providing maternity care with Austin Forbes and Kaia Jystad. Also skiing and exploring the Colorado backcountry with classmates.”

Joshua Smith

“The library. I remember many hours spent in the study rooms in the library.”

Holly Spitzer

Holly Spitzer participates in a Hyper-Realistic scenario at Cut Suit Week.

“One of my favorite memories at RVU is learning about the management of surgical trauma at Cut Suit Week in San Diego as part of the Military Medicine Track.”

Peter Stacy

“The Donor Memorial Ceremony.”

A classmate, Brent Wilkinson, performs during the Donor Memorial Ceremony in 2017.

Kayla Vanderkooi

“I spent the first two years living with classmates. We signed the lease as strangers and had no idea that we were signing up to live with our best friends. While we each experienced the difficulty of medical school in our own ways, we were also each other’s support system.

My favorite memory is from July 2016. It was the first week of school and we had our first exam that Friday. Needless to say, we were all panicked and convinced we were going to fail out after just one week. Three of us were gathered around the kitchen counter at about 11:00 pm, the evening before the exam, talking about our nerves, when from the floor above we suddenly heard a rhythmic pounding on the floor “boom, BOOM, boom, BOOM…” It was enough to get our attention, and we wondered what our 4th roommate could be up to. Seconds later the pounding was accompanied by a chanting noise, “ohhhhhh, ahhhhhh, eeeee, oooooo…” We stared at the ceiling, then stared at each other bewildered, our unspoken thoughts collectively saying “welp, there goes the first one, off her rocker, look what medical school has already done to us.” Then, we dissolved into laughter, falling off our stools, crying, maybe even wetting out pants a little, laughter.

We met for lunch the next day after finishing our morning exam, intending to open our results together, and were relieved to learn we all passed our first medical school test! Then, we asked our fourth roommate what all the ruckus was about the previous night. She took us home, turned off the lights, and blasted a song known as the “Electric Pow Wow”. She told us to dance and move however we felt like moving. We did and loved it, and from then on, the “Electric Pow Wow” became a regular post-exam tradition.

Kate Wilcox

“Ultrafest! The ultrasound festival we hosted my first year! I felt really proud to be a student at RVU and like I was a part of a community.”

Elizabeth Wittrock

“My favorite memories just include the time spent with friends, even if it was when we were studying.”

Matthew Zemel

“Spikeball on the lawn, and any time Dr. Pales was lecturing.”

Photos submitted by Ria Joseph and Kayla Vanderkooi:

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