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Celebrating the PharmD Class of 2024

UMSOP graduates receive UMB degrees and PharmD hoods in front of family and friends.

A student smiles while receiving a hood from Jace Jones.

By Andrew Tie
May 20, 2024

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) celebrated 94 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students at The Lyric Baltimore on May 17 at its annual Graduation Convocation.

“We at the School of Pharmacy are so very proud of you,” said Sarah L.J. Michel, PhD, dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who presided over graduation for the first time as dean. “As you go into the world and start your career in pharmacy, I am looking forward to hearing about your accomplishments. Whatever path you take, continue to be resilient, tenacious, and altruistic. Continue to lead.”

“If you think back to when you first started school here, how many skills did you have? How many lives could you save? How many proper medications could you think about and administer? Look at you today. Look at how excellent you’ve become,” said Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), in conferring the PharmD degree to the graduates.

The Class of 2024 is unique, having experienced disruptions to their academic and personal lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, this was their first college graduation, having finished their undergraduate degrees virtually in May 2020. They started at UMSOP in Fall 2020, with their first year of pharmacy school completely virtual. But despite these challenges, the Class of 2024 persevered. Some students challenged themselves to complete pathways in geriatric and palliative care, pharmapreneurship, pharmacotherapy, and research, while others completed graduate certificates or dual degrees in pharmacometrics and regulatory science. Others took on leadership positions in the Student Government Association or the University Student Government Association. And others participated in legislative advocacy.

Speakers Give Advice to Graduates

During the ceremony, Jarrell presented an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree to R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr., PhD, MPA, president of Cintana Education, for which the School of Pharmacy nominated him.

Shangraw has long been part of the UMSOP community as the son of the late Ralph F. Shangraw, a former department chair and professor emeritus of pharmaceutics. The honorary degree recognizes Shangraw’s involvement with and advocacy for advancing pharmacy education, research, and practice.

“As you go out into the world, keep that entrepreneurial spirit to be innovative, to be creative, to think of new ways to do your job, to bring new ideas,” said Shangraw, who has been a supporter of the Pharmapreneurship® initiative, the School’s commitment to supporting and best positioning faculty and students to achieve their career aspirations and address health care challenges.

“Many professions around the world are changing dramatically, and pharmacy is certainly one of them. So it’s vitally important to bring this concept of pharmapreneurship to your job.”

The Class of 2024 also heard from Brent Reed, PharmD, MS, a doctoral candidate in organizational science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and former associate professor of pharmacy practice and science for eight years at UMSOP. Reed taught the Class of 2024 during their first year before he changed careers to study workplace stress and burnout.

Reed, who experienced burnout himself as a pharmacist, advised the graduates to be wary of viewing their professional identity as their entire identity. He suggested building boundaries and creating other valued identities that exist outside of work. When Reed taught the class four years ago, he asked students to submit reflections about why they wanted to be a pharmacist.

“So many of you chose to pursue this path because you wanted to help people,” Reed said. “You can do that in so many ways – from being a parent or partner, to selflessly serving your community. You can also bring joy to peoples’ lives through art, music, and becoming a pharmapreneur. One common theme is they help us meet our need for meaning through purpose.”

Graduates Reflect on Pharmacy School Career

The Class of 2024 began pharmacy school several months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, so they spent their first year learning virtually and not meeting each other in person.

“We embraced every challenge with resilience and determination, and amidst the uncertainty, we found comfort in the bonds we created with one another,” said Emma Wehrman Brusio, PharmD ’24, class president. “I’m immensely proud of all that we’ve accomplished.”

Eileen Zheng, PharmD ’24, said the pandemic helped bring the class together after a difficult first year filled with Zoom studying sessions.

“It’s been a crazy journey and I’m so excited to be done, but it’s extremely bittersweet to see everyone go their separate ways,” said Zheng, who will soon move to New Jersey for a fellowship in clinical development with Rutgers and Daiichi Sankyo. “I know we’ll do great things for the profession of pharmacy going forward.”

In reflecting on his journey through pharmacy school, Javier Trujillo, PharmD ’24, recalls moving to Maryland not knowing anyone and developing friendships with classmates. During his fourth year, he worked at the Maryland Poison Center, which he said changed his career interests toward toxicology.

“I absolutely loved working at the Maryland Poison Center. It was more fulfilling than anything I’ve ever done,” Trujillo said.

Looking forward, Ivan Bauzon, PharmD ’24, said he wants to work in a hospital in inpatient pharmacy.

“I wanted to be a pharmacist because I wanted to help people,” Bauzon said. “I worked at CVS, and the patient interaction helped me realize that I wanted to help people.”

PharmD Class of 2024 Awards and Prizes

To view more photos and video from this momentous occasion, please visit the School of Pharmacy’s FacebookInstagram, and Flickr pages.

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