Taking their first steps in the journey to become Doctors of Pharmacy, the 198 members of the Class of 2022 walked into the annual USC School of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony, held Aug. 16 on the Harry and Celesta Pappas Quad.

The first-year pharmacy students, along with their family and friends, were welcomed by Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, to the USC Trojan Family.

“You are entering pharmacy at a time when the need for health care in our country is high, and the expertise that you will gain here at USC will prepare you to meet that need,” Papadopoulos said.


The power talk

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was alumni Michael Pazirandeh, PharmD, associate director of Health Economics & Outcomes Research (HEOR) at Bristol-Myers Squibb, who shared three pieces of advice he called “the power talk.” He spoke earnestly about the power of control, the power of being uncomfortable and the power of perseverance, and concluded with the importance of putting patients first.

“Remember why you are here in the first place,” Pazirandeh said. “It’s about the patient, and as long as you can remember that, everything else will fall into place.”

Susie H. Park, PharmD, associate dean for student affairs, and Irving Steinberg, PharmD, associate dean for faculty affairs, called each student to the stage to be officially coated by a member of the faculty.

The ceremony culminated with the administration of the Oath of a Pharmacist, led by Patrick Tabon, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy. It was followed by a reception for all.

A family affair

This year, eight students requested to be coated by a special USC School of Pharmacy alumni in their lives. The crowd burst into cheers as mothers, uncles, brothers and sisters helped coat their loved ones.

Parents Christopher Salvatori (PharmD ’93) and Catherine Salvatori (PharmD ’93) were able to jointly coat their son, Andrew Salvatori.

“The phrase Trojan Family means so much more to me because I actually grew up with a family of Trojans,” the younger Salvatori said. “My grandpa went to pharmacy school here too.”

The ceremony was a memorable one for Melissa Liao, who watched her son, Austin Lee (PharmD ’18) coat his sister, Ashley Lee.

“Seeing Austin coat Ashley gave me goosebumps,” Liao said. “I’m just so proud.”

— Linda Wang