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The Sanford School of Medicine reaches more than 3,900 alumni across the country with opportunities to connect through student initiatives, the South Dakotan M.D. magazine, events and programs. As alumni, they are members of an amazing network of health care professionals who continue to learn from one another. Join our students, residents and faculty in participating in activities that build and maintain relationships for a lifetime.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year, the Sanford School of Medicine honors a graduate who demonstrates pride and whose interest and loyalty are evident. The recipient is distinguished in the medical profession, graduated at least 10 years prior to being nominated and has a continuing interest in the Sanford School of Medicine.

It is with great pleasure that the Sanford School of Medicine Alumni Relations Council presents the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to Dr. Keith Lillemoe, Class of 1978.

Past Award Recipients

  • 2019: Dr. Susan Anderson, M.D.
  • 2018: Laura Davis-Keppen, M.D.
  • 2017: Tim Ridgway, M.D.
  • 2016: Steven Stocks, M.D.
  • 2015: Ruth Thatcher, M.D.
  • 2014: Michael Koch, M.D.
  • 2013: David Mutch, M.D.
  • 2012: Vance M. Thompson, M.D.
  • 2011: Richard P. Holm, M.D.
  • 2010: Wendell W. Hoffman, M.D.
  • 2009: Richard Porter, M.D.

Nominations sought for Distinguished Alumni Award: Nominations are accepted throughout the year and chosen each fall for recognition at the alumni reunion in May. To be considered for 2021's award, email with a letter of nomination recognizing the achievements of an alumnus who has distinguished themselves in professional, community and medical school involvement.

Alumni Relations Council


President: Micah Likness, M.D. ('08, Yankton)
Past President: Cindi Pochop, M.D. ('91, Pierre)
Treasurer: Candace Zeigler, M.D. ('91, Sioux Falls)

Ex Officio
Dean Tim Ridgway, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.G.E.
Kellyna Warnke, Director of Development, USD Foundation
Dawn Bragg, Ph.D., Medical Student Affairs Dean
Nicole Plesec, Alumni Relations

Medical Students
Hanna Wiley, Class of 2022
Christian Pollema, Class of 2023
Brittany Bramberg, Class of 2024

Janice Gerlach, M.D. (’19, Sioux Falls)
Erin Terpstra, M.D. (’19, Sioux Falls)

Halie Anderson, M.D. (’11, Rapid City)
Linda Fromm, M.D. (’06, Rapid City)
Rachel Gordon, M.D. ('12, Duluth, MN)
Jessica Horn, M.D. ('05, Watertown)
Troy Howard, M.D. (’10, Rapid City)
Mel Johnson, M.D. ('01, Sioux Falls)
Leah Prestbo, M.D. ('07, Sioux Falls)
Robert Rhodes, M.D. (’94, Lincoln, NE)
Sara Ruter, M.D. ('09, Sioux Falls)
Annette Siewert, M.D. ('08, Sioux Falls)
Shawn Vuong, M.D. (’12, Sioux Falls)
Lesta Whalen, M.D. (’07, Sioux Falls)
Jason Wickersham, M.D. (’01, Parkston)

Since 1992, Sanford School of Medicine has annually identified four South Dakota high school seniors who have a well-developed interest in medicine and are dedicated to the mission of our medical school to participate in the Alumni Student Scholars Program. We offer the opportunity to gain a solid undergraduate education grounded in the liberal arts along with numerous opportunities to interact with physicians and other health care professionals.

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