Paying It Forward: Sensational Sauerhammer Serves Up Stunning Keynote at UWGB Commencement

Michael Cerkas's picture

Living a life that most people only witness in amazement as a movie or fiction book, Dr. Tina Sauerhammer shared with new college graduates how to make dreams become a reality while impacting the lives of others, at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay Commencement ceremony.

Dr. Sauerhammer delivered the Keynote Address at the UWGB Graduation Commencement ceremony recently in Green Bay. In contrast to her astonishing life, Sauerhammer presented to the graduates, professors, parents and audience, the innocence and humility of a grounded, thankful and very capable human being, yet strong and determined to pay back to society the gifts she had been blessed with and charily developed into her adulthood. Gifts offered as knowledge, talents and skills, blended with compassion and energy, in service to helping others.


Humble Beginnings Blossom into a Very Special Human Being
Born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, modest beginnings laid the foundation for Tina Sauerhammer as she blossomed into a radiant and shining star illuminating the country and the medical world. She equally serves as a perfect example of a role model for youthful and mature students alike.

Ms. Sauerhammer (now Dr. Sauerhammer) is a cutting edge micro-surgeon specializing in reconstructive surgery for children, who began her path and caught the attention of a community when she began college at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay as the youngest student at age 14. She subsequently and likewise graduated from UWGB as the youngest ever, at age 18, also serving as Senior Class Speaker.

An amazing story even at that point, was to be far from over. Tina Sauerhammer had an interest in biology, medicine and helping others that not surprisingly, carried her into medicine at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she became the youngest ever UW-Madison medical school graduate at age 22.

Not unexpectedly, her amazing life journey and story accelerates. A youthful Dr. Sauerhammer at 22 years old, was concurrently crowned Miss Wisconsin 2003, ultimately competing in the 2004 Miss America Competition, where she finished first in the musical talent section and overall, was named 2nd Runner-up.

And yet her amazing story continues still. Dr. Sauerhammer, a plastic surgeon fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, had the unique honor and privilege to serve on the surgical team that conducted the first full face transplant in the United States. (Read about the surgery and recipient here).

Now, at 30 years old, Dr. Sauerhammer reflects on her amazing past while encouraging and inspiring current year graduates as they enter society and the world before them:

Relive memories of the 2004 Miss America Competition and watch Tina Sauerhammer as she participated:

Among Dr. Tina Sauerhammer’s accolades are appearances and features on CNN, The Early Show, Inside Edition, People Magazine, American Medical News and Modern Health Care. Dr. Sauerhammer dedicated her efforts in the Miss America Competition to organ donation, in memory of her father Randy Sauerhammer, who ironically passed away shortly after he missed the call for a life-saving kidney transplant as he attended the 2003 Miss Wisconsin Pageant to watch his daughter, Tina, compete.

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

Participate in and learn about the Pay It Forward concept here.

This author is very proud to share the stage with Dr. Tina Sauerhammer as a fellow UWGB Alumni.

Image credit: UWGB

You can reach Michael Cerkas via email at


Submitted by Cindy Kapla (not verified) on
How can one be anything but in awe of this woman! Humble, brilliant and a drive to pay it forward! What a gift she helped give that patient who was burned painting the church! And his 3 yr old daughter as well. WOW!!!!

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