Class of 2016 Welcomed to the School of Pharmacy

Annual White Coat Ceremony provides traditional welcome to the pharmacy profession.

By Malissa Carroll
September 17, 2012

Family and friends joined faculty, staff, and alumni at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy to watch as the 158 students of the Class of 2016 excitedly approached the stage to don a pharmacist’s white coat for the first time.

This traditional White Coat Ceremony, which includes an official signing of the School’s honor code, marks the students’ entry into the profession as student pharmacists.

Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, said, “The ultimate goal of this ceremony is to transform you in mind, manner, and actions from simply a student to a student pharmacist.” She added, “The white coat represents your past and current leadership endeavors and achievements and your commitment to provide the best pharmaceutical care to your future patients. Wear it with pride and remember your responsibility to provide honest and accurate information to those in your care.”

A retired lieutenant commander from the United States Navy and now a first year student pharmacist, Sinthi Acey sees this responsibility as a new opportunity to continue her passion for serving others.

“Service has been a resounding theme throughout my life – to my family, my community, my nation, and my God. Transitioning from my role as primary caregiver to my two sons who recently entered middle school and high school, I saw an opportunity to broaden the service I have provided others throughout my life in pharmacy,” said Acey.

Acey, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics from the United States Naval Academy and a Master’s Degree in Space Systems Operations form the Naval Postgraduate School, was understandably thrilled after learning of her acceptance to the School of Pharmacy, saying, “It represented the culmination of 18 months of focused work in physical sciences, the stressful application and interview process, and then the worry over whether or not I would get accepted.”

Acey served in multiple leadership and managerial capacities on both active duty and in the Navy Reserve from 1990-2010. She held positions in communications, spacecraft operations, systems engineering, intelligence, and administration, with her active duty responsibilities taking her around the world to countries such as Australia, Germany, and England. She believes her experience in the Navy will aid her success in pharmacy school.

“My experience in the Navy was invaluable,” says Acey. “I had the privilege to work with people of many races, religions, cultural backgrounds, and economic classes. I worked closely with members of every rank in each branch of the military as well as bright and talented civilians. As an officer, I learned to lead in times of crisis and peace.”

From the audience, Acey’s husband proudly watched as she strode to the stage to slip on her white coat and accept her responsibilities as a student pharmacist. Though graduation may still be four years away, Acey looks forward to continuing to learn and serve, gaining the widest possible appreciation for the field of pharmacy before focusing on her goal of pharmaceutical research to support the fight against cancer.

Dean Eddington advised the new class, “The landscape of how health care is provided is changing quickly and in dynamic ways. It is truly a transformational time to be a student pharmacist because you will play a significant role in modifying pharmacy practice under health care reform.” She added, “A pharmacist is an integral part of a patient’s health care team and often the most accessible member on that team. As the team’s medication expert, a pharmacist provides valuable information pharmacotherapy, drug-to-drug interactions, and potentially dangerous side effects, and provides valuable feedback to other health care professionals.”

Guest speaker and corporate assistant vice president of pharmacy services for MedStar Health, Bonnie Levin, PharmD, MBA, shared advice she gathered from friends and colleagues who were recent pharmacy school graduates or current School of Pharmacy students. She spoke about those things she considered to be the “top 10 tenets to success in pharmacy school”: networking, mentoring, exploring, collaborating, learning, engaging, leading, embracing the future but respecting traditions, pacing, and living.

“Each of you has the responsibility and obligation to be a leader in your class, job, and organization,” said Levin, a 1978 graduate of the School. “You represent the rest of us each time you speak. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally so you can be an example to others. Proving yourself is not about talking, it’s about doing and showing.”

Related News Stories