The USC School of Pharmacy marked its 111th Commencement on the afternoon of May 11 before an audience of more than 2,200 family members, friends, faculty and staff.
Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, presided over the event in the tented Broad Lawn quad, advising graduates — the new pharmacists, pharmacologists or pharmaceutical scientists, health economists or regulatory experts — to always have a purpose beyond position and money that will guide them through life, and never forget their connection to USC.
“The Trojan family is proud of you,” Papadopoulos told the graduates. “Each one of you has a remarkable story. You have used your time at USC to do incredible things.”
The following degrees were awarded:
• 185 Doctor of Pharmacy
• 4 Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics)
• 2 Doctor of Philosophy (Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology)
• 7 Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmaceutical Sciences)
• 1 Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy)
• 9 Doctor of Philosophy (Health Economics)
• 2 Doctor of Regulatory Science
• 4 Master of Science (Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology)
• 3 Master of Science (Pharmaceutical Sciences)
• 1 Master of Science (Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy)
• 24 Master of Science (Health Care Decision Analysis)
• 9 Master of Science (Management of Drug Development)
• 29 Master of Science (Regulatory Science)
• 2 Master of Science (Medical Product Quality)
• 1 Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology and Drug Development)
Additionally, 39 pharmacists were recognized for completing residency training along with 10 individuals who received certificates marking the conclusion of their fellowship programs.
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable”
The featured commencement speaker was Eileen Goodis Strom, PharmD, who shared experiences and lessons learned from her career as a health care entrepreneur, who founded and then sold two pharmacy businesses.
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable — it’s a gift,” she urged the graduates, emphasizing the importance of building relationships, taking risks, and remembering the power of words to inspire.
She encouraged the graduates to reach out to her personally in the future once they had achieved some of their goals. “I want to hear about you creating your big, bold, and beautiful lives.”
‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’
Speaking on behalf of the PharmD graduates was Irene Chen, president of the PharmD class, who shared her personal journey through a series of health crises both before and during pharmacy school, and encouraged the graduates never to forget that it is a privilege to serve others.
“We are in a unique position as health care providers,” Chen told her classmates. “Our patients are the best teachers … in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Jordan Despanie, who accepted his PhD in pharmaceutical science Friday, spoke on behalf of the master’s and PhD graduates from departments across the school.
“We each have different missions — to enhance the prestige of America’s health care system, to shepherd cures from the FDA into the marketplace, to invent tomorrow’s blockbuster drugs,” Despanie said. “I call on every one of you today to reject every restraint and lose all limits.”
Renita Moradian, the first graduate of the school’s new undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacology and drug development, accepted her degree from Daryl Davies, PhD, director of the undergraduate program.
PharmD graduates Vincent Li and Jessica Chandler were the flag and banner bearers in the processional. Steven Chen, PharmD, associate dean for clinical affairs, led the new pharmacists in a recitation of the “Oath of a Pharmacist.”
Glen Stimmel, PharmD, associate dean for academic affairs, recognized the many parents, spouses, significant others, children, family and friends in the audience, asking them to stand and be celebrated.
“You share equally in this celebration,” he said. “This is your day too and we recognize and appreciate all your efforts in supporting your graduates.”
A reception took place immediately following the ceremony on Pappas Quad on the Health Sciences Campus.
— Michele Keller