The USC School of Pharmacy marked its 112th Commencement on the afternoon of May 10 before an audience of more than 1,900 family, 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, pharmaceutical scientists, health economists and regulatory experts — to consider the incredible heritage of the pharmacy profession while embracing the mission to transform the face of pharmacy.
“You are the future of our profession and, even more, you are the future and our hope for a better health care system,” Papadopoulos said.
The following degrees were awarded:
- 181 Doctor of Pharmacy
- 2 Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics)
- 4 Doctor of Philosophy (Health Economics)
- 3 Doctor of Philosophy (Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology)
- 4 Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmaceutical Sciences)
- 7 Doctor of Regulatory Science
- 38 Master of Science (Health Care Decision Analysis)
- 3 Master of Science (Management of Drug Development)
- 3 Master of Science (Medical Product Quality)
- 2 Master of Science (Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology)
- 14 Master of Science (Pharmaceutical Sciences)
- 2 Master of Science (Regulatory Management)
- 20 Master of Science (Regulatory Science)
- 10 Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology and Drug Development)
Additionally, 35 pharmacists were recognized for completing residency training along with nine individuals who received certificates marking the conclusion of their fellowship programs.
“These challenges are your opportunities”
The featured commencement speaker was Leonard D. Schaeffer, the founding Chair and Chief Executive Office of WellPoint (now Anthem), who spoke about the opportunities and challenges ahead for the graduates as they begin their careers in the American health care system.
Because of the increase in health care spending, “it’s difficult to reach a political consensus on society’s goals for supporting scientific advancement, expanding access to health insurance and reducing health disparities,” he said. “These challenges are your opportunities.”
He also shared lessons learned firsthand from watching his father, a community pharmacist, interact with his patients. “The role of the pharmacist is much broader than simply selling retail drugs,” Schaeffer said. “It’s about helping people achieve better health.”
“Be proud of what we’ve accomplished”
Speaking on behalf of the PharmD graduates was Marisa Jones, president of the PharmD class of 2019, who shared memorable moments from pharmacy school and encouraged the graduates to take pause and enjoy the moment.
“It’s easy to start worrying about the next hurdle, whether it’s studying for the boards or looking for a job,” Jones said. “But it’s important to take some time to be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Laura Henkhaus, who accepted her PhD in health economics, spoke on behalf of the master’s and PhD graduates from departments across the school.
“Graduates, through successes and setbacks in our careers, let us always remember and value our great power to contribute by helping the people around us beyond the particular ways we have been trained to support patient health,” she urged her classmates. “Through all the big things you will do, remember your every day opportunity to help the individual.”
Last year, Renita Moradian was first graduate of the school’s new undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacology and drug development. On Friday, 10 students accepted their Bachelor of Science degrees from Daryl Davies, PhD, the newly appointed associate dean for undergraduate education. Eight of these graduates are joining the USC School of Pharmacy class of 2023.
PharmD graduates Andy Han and Alexandra Silva were the flag and banner bearers in the processional. Edith Mirzaian, PharmD, assistant dean for curriculum, 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.
“The school’s administration, faculty and especially the graduates want to recognize and honor you for your support and sacrifice that helped to make this special day possible,” he said.
A reception took place immediately following the ceremony on Pappas Quad on the Health Sciences Campus.
— Linda Wang