Youngest grad Sauerhammer returns to deliver commencement address

Dr. Tina Sauerhammer will have a featured role in UW-Green Bay spring commencement ceremonies set for 11:30 Saturday (May 14) at the Kress Events Center on campus.

Sauerhammer has been invited to deliver the commencement address before what is expected to be a packed house of about 5,000 at the Kress. The occasion will mark nearly a dozen years to the day since she received the Outstanding Student Award and served as graduating class speaker at her own UW-Green Bay commencement in May 1999.

Since graduation, the Green Bay native has earned multiple honors and national prominence for her academic achievements, promotion of the cause of organ donation, and her chosen career as a medical professional helping children — especially the disadvantaged — receive needed reconstructive surgeries.

Sauerhammer was just 14 years of age when she enrolled at UW-Green Bay. At age 18 she became the University’s youngest-ever graduate, completing majors in Human Biology and Human Development and receiving her bachelor’s degree with summa cum laude, or highest, honors. Four years later, the 22-year old became the youngest person ever to graduate from the prestigious UW-Madison Medical School.

During her last year of medical school, she lost her father, Randall Sauerhammer, while he was awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. She dedicated the next year of her life to her father and earned selection as Miss Wisconsin 2003, traveling across the state and nation speaking on her platform of “Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness.” She was second runner-up at the Miss America Competition, winning the talent competition playing the cello. She served as national adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for implementation of an organ donation curriculum, was spokesperson for the Wisconsin Organ Procurement Organization, and helped pass Cody’s Law —first-in-the-nation legislation to give living organ donors a tax deduction— which was eventually passed in more than a dozen states.

Through her national advocacy she was featured on CNN, The Early Show and Inside Edition and in People Magazine, American Medical News, Modern Health Care, and others. She was commended by the Wisconsin Medical Society and in 2005 was the recipient of UW-Green Bay’s Outstanding Recent Alumni Award.

Following her year-plus of service to the cause of organ donation, Dr. Sauerhammer completed her residency in general surgery at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and became certified by the American Board of Surgery.

She is currently completing a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Lahey Clinic in the Boston area, and she has been selected to be the inaugural craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery fellow at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., starting in July. She will continue her training in Paris, France.

The 850 or so students eligible to graduate Saturday represent a UW-Green Bay record. About 675 of those students have pre-registered to participate in the formal cap-and-gown ceremony.


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