Award Recipients

MEDEX Northwest honors its students through awards at two different times each year.

The MEDEX program offers scholarship opportunities based on funds honoring members of the MEDEX family.  Winners are presented with the scholarship awards at the annual MEDEX reception at the WAPA conference held every January.  These scholarships are described here along with a list of recent awardees.

At graduation in August, graduating students across all sites are presented with awards voted on by the faculty.  These awards recognize commitment to the medically underserved, leadership potential, displaying the spirit of MEDEX and other qualities.  Awards and recipients from recent years are listed below.

Graduation Awards

The Spirit of MEDEX Award

This award recognizes students who have dedicated themselves to their goal of being a physician assistant, who have shown compassion and sensitivity to others and who have maintained their humor and perseverance in the face of adversity.  They have a positive attitude and are ambassadors for the program throughout their MEDEX training.

2020  2019  2018 

Nirupama Jayagopal 

Seattle 52 

Danielle Satow 

Seattle 51 

Tenesha McFadden, 
Seattle 50 

Lauren Trew 

Spokane 22 

Matt Grisso 

Spokane 21 

Noah Chutz, 
Spokane 20 

Kusuma Ayithepalli 

Tacoma 6 

Marisol Salazar 

Tacoma 5 

Brianne Noel, 
Tacoma 4 

Entire Class 

Anchorage 10 

Entire Class 

Anchorage 9 

Benjamin Johnson, 
Anchorage 8 

The John B. Coombs Leadership Award

Dr. Coombs was the Associate Dean for Regional Affairs and Rural Health in the School of Medicine, and had a long record of promoting the PA profession.  This award is presented to students who have become role models to their peers, have assumed some of the responsibilities of leadership during their training and have carried out those responsibilities with integrity, cooperation and understanding.

2020  2019  2018 

Joseph Starzl 

Seattle 52 

Alex Pelman 

Seattle 51 

Douglas Stroop, 
Seattle 50 

Annan Sheffield 

Spokane 22 

Eric Anderies 

Spokane 21 

Cody Solders, 
Spokane 20 

Rebekah Gorman 

Tacoma 6 

Brittany Hager 

Tacoma 5 

John Bradburn, 
Tacoma 4 

Jean Morello 

Anchorage 10 

Suzanne Smerjac 

Anchorage 9 

Dayna Daku, 
Anchorage 8 

Barbara Gunter-Flynn Award

2020  2019  2018 

Heidi Youmans 

Spokane 22 

Hershell Cummings 

Spokane 21 

Michaela Whitmore, 
Spokane 20 

Ellen Harder Award

2020  2019  2018 

Tyson Bradley 

Tacoma 6 

Kayt Fowler 

Tacoma 5 

Olivia LeAnn Price, 
Tacoma 4 

Alaska Underserved Service Award

2020  2019  2018 

Yanet Medina 

Anchorage 10 

Jenelle Johnson 

Anchorage 9 

Pearl Churchill, 
Anchorage 8 

Steven Turnipseed, PA-C Veterans Award

The Steven Turnipseed, PA-C Veterans Award goes to a MEDEX graduate for service to country, class and community. Steve was the sole African-American among the first members of MEDEX Class 1 in 1969. Like all his classmates, Steve came to MEDEX as a veteran of the military, specifically, 10 years in the US Army with the 1st Special Forces Group in counter-intelligence and psychological warfare in Northeast Thailand along the Cambodian and Laotian borders. He was recruited by Dr. Richard A. Smith for the inaugural PA program at MEDEX. Smith once described Turnipseed as “one of the most wonderful human beings I know. He has incredible skills, both people skills and medical skills.” Fluent in both German and Spanish, despite the fact he didn’t have a high school education, Steve later got his GED and received his bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Public Health. During the preceptorship phase of his MEDEX education, Steve was placed in an urban Seattle hospital setting—Group Health Central on Capitol Hill. He worked there for a number of years, ran an outpatient clinic and developed a highly successful addiction treatment services program.

2020  2019  2018 

Christopher Hilton 

Seattle 52 

Paul Hastings 

Seattle 51 

Brendan Finn, 
Seattle 50 
Ryan Kraeger, 
Seattle 50 

Coty Holm 

Spokane 22 

   

Sarah Clark 

Tacoma 6 

Stephanie Vickery 

Tacoma 5 

Lillooet Bryner, 
Tacoma 4 
Glenn Sons, Jr., 
Tacoma 4 

Robin Morris 

Anchorage 10 

Molly “Q” Reque 

Anchorage 9 

Ashley Boge, 
Anchorage 8 

The Mary Reed Award

Mary Reed graduated from MEDEX in 1983. Her husband, Joe Reed, worked with the Washington Association of Physician Assistants to establish this memorial award that honors Mary’s commitment to academic excellence.  The award goes to the one MEDEX student who has achieved the highest GPA among all the training sites during the didactic year.

2020  2019  2018 

Julia Snider 

Spokane 22 

Jenna Emily Gilbert 

Seattle 51 

Paul Hughes, 
Seattle 50 

The Student Writing Award

This award is given to students who have combined creativity and unique approaches with exceptional writing skills in assigned papers.

2020  2019  2018 

Tiffany Dam 

Seattle 52 

Jeffery Gallagher 

Seattle 51 

Matthew McGady, 
Seattle 50 

Mark Smyly 

Spokane 22 

Rhiannon Evans 

Spokane 21 

Emily Ann Looze, 
Spokane 20 

Samantha Millar 

Tacoma 6 

Brian Andrew 

Tacoma 5 

Jaynesha Williams, 
Tacoma 4 

Isabel Hakala 

Anchorage 10 

Hailey Lankford 

Anchorage 9 

Sara Langford, 
Anchorage 8 

Capstone Awards

MEDEX master’s degree students at the Seattle, Spokane and Anchorage sites presented their capstone projects to their peers and the faculty at MEDEX Northwest a few days before graduation. The students spent the prior year researching and preparing to present their project: all the students submitted a written paper in spring quarter and the in-person presentations could be either an oral discussion or a poster session. The presentation days were structured similar to an academic conference and a sense of celebration and accomplishment was present.

The faculty voted on awards for the projects and presentations that stood out in several categories.  Each award winner received a certificate in recognition of their outstanding work.

MEDEX Northwest 2018 Capstone Project Awards

Best Overall Capstone Project 
Eric Anderies, Spokane 21 

 

Best Oral Presentation  
Matthew Grisso,  Spokane 21 

 

Best Oral Presentation  
Alex Shaffer,  Seattle 51 

 

Best Oral Presentation  
Suzanne Smerjac,  Anchorage 9 

 

Best Poster Presentation 
Shaddin Tirhi,  Spokane 21 

 

Best Poster Presentation  
Jacob Collins,  Seattle 51 

 

Best Poster Presentation  
Sandra Speerstra,  Anchorage 9 

 

Best Global Health Project 
Erica Borresen,  Seattle 51 

 

Best Academic & Specialty Project 
Susan Marvel,  Seattle 51 

 

Best Public Health & Preventive Medicine Project 
Jenelle Johnson,  Anchorage 9 

 

Best Rural & Underserved Project 
Brett Steinmetz,  Seattle 51