Taking their first steps in the journey to become Doctors of Pharmacy, the 188 members of the Class of 2020 strode into the annual USC School of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony on the Harry and Celesta Pappas Quad.
The first-year pharmacy students, along with their family members and friends, were welcomed Aug. 19 by Interim Dean Glen L. Stimmel, PharmD, who informed them they were joining the profession at an important time when the scope of practice is expanding, putting pharmacists at the forefront of patient care.
“We welcome you into a profession that will give you broad opportunities,” Stimmel said. “Today it’s white coats, in May of 2020 it’ll be caps and gowns. You will be the best educated and skilled pharmacists that we have ever graduated.”
Stimmel also introduced incoming Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, who officially begins his appointment at the USC School of Pharmacy on Oct. 1.
Papadopoulos challenged the students, to think beyond their degree and focus on finding ways they, as future medication-based experts, can innovate and improve the delivery of health care.
“We need to continue to transform and change,” Papadopoulos said.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Susie H. Park, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy, who reflected on her own experience donning a white coat for the first time two decades ago, as a first-year USC pharmacy student in the class of 2000.
“You can never count down your days of learning,” said Park, encouraging students to pause and enjoy the moment. “As my father once told me, ‘You’re never done taking tests.’ You’ll leave here with an education that is as invaluable as time, so make the most of your time. Welcome to the USC School of Pharmacy.”
The Class of 2020 collectively speaks more than 20 languages, including Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Cebuano, Chinese, Guajarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Persian (Farsi), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Twi and Vietnamese.
Fred Weissman, PharmD, JD, associate dean for faculty and student affairs and admission, called each student to the stage to be officially coated by a member of the faculty, the Alumni Association or QSAD Centurion, the premier support group of the USC School of Pharmacy.
The ceremony, generously supported by Cardinal Health, culminated with the administration of the “Oath of a Pharmacist,” led by Tien M.H. Ng, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy.
— Michele Keller