Taking the first steps in their journey to become Doctors of Pharmacy, the 192 members of the Class of 2021 entered the annual USC School of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony on the Harry and Celesta Pappas Quad on Aug. 18.

Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, welcomed the first-year pharmacy students, along with their family members and friends.

“You have distinguished yourselves in your undergraduate years and we look upon you today with great expectations for what you will accomplish during your years in pharmacy school and in your eventual career,” Papadopoulos said.

Daryl Davies coats incoming student Jasmine Albakri. (Photo/Reynaldo Obrero)

He 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.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was William Heeres, PharmD, former chair of the USC School of Pharmacy Board of Councilors who reflected on his own experience as a second-generation Trojan pharmacist.

“When you tell people you’re a USC pharmacist, it makes all the difference. They know you’re something special,” Heeres said. “In 1,500 days, you will become licensed pharmacists. The time will go by much too quickly. Today you become members of the Trojan family. That’s not for four years, that’s for the rest of your life … this group of students are the pharmacists you will know the best and keep track of throughout your life.”

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 Alumni Association or QSAD Centurion, the premier support group of the USC School of Pharmacy.

The ceremony culminated with the administration of the “Oath of a Pharmacist,” led by Kevin Forrester, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy. It was followed by a reception for all on the quad.

Before the ceremony began, first-year student Blanca F. Guzman reflected on her decision to pursue pharmacy.

“As a first-generation graduate student, this is my opportunity to represent where I come from and be a positive influence on my family,” she said. “It means a lot to prove that this is possible and not out of this world, which was something I believed growing up.”

— Michele Keller and Divya Yerwa Mary

The USC School of Pharmacy welcomed 192 members of the Class of 2021 during the white coat ceremony, held Aug. 18. (Photo/Reynaldo Obrero)