School of Pharmacy Celebrates the Class of 2015 at Convocation

More than 180 PharmD and graduate students receive degrees and embark on the next phase of their lives.

By Becky Ceraul
May 18, 2015

Family, friends, faculty, preceptors, and staff watched proudly as the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s most recent Doctors of Pharmacy walked across the stage to receive their doctoral hoods at the School’s annual convocation ceremony held at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel on May 15.

In her opening remarks, Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy, told the Class of 2015 that they hold a special place at the School.

“Your class has the highest residency program match rate of any graduating class in our history, and more importantly, the highest match rate nationally for any school or college of pharmacy in the US in 2015,” she said. “To add to that, out of the 130 schools of pharmacy in the country, you have the eighth highest total number of residency matches. Of this you should be especially proud.”

Eddington also addressed the personal challenges that many students encountered as they progressed through their pharmacy education, including new marriages, children, and other obstacles such as illnesses.

“But none of you gave up,” she commended. “In fact, many of you pursued additional opportunities on top of the challenge that is the PharmD curriculum. You sought out internships, pursued dual degrees, and spearheaded projects that benefitted fellow students and the local and global community. These remarkable achievements highlight your dedication and perseverance – qualities that will serve you well in your career.”

David Roffman, PharmD, BCPS, AQ/Cardiology, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the School of Pharmacy, was chosen by the Class of 2015 as the keynote speaker for convocation in honor of the impact that his teaching has had on student pharmacists throughout his career. In his speech, Roffman gave several charges to his newest Doctor of Pharmacy colleagues

“Make a real difference in at least one patient’s health every day,” he said. “Move the practice of pharmacy forward. Maximize the number of days that you cannot wait to get to work, and minimize the number of days that you cannot wait to leave. Show your patients and your health care colleagues that pharmacists can improve the quality of health care and the quality of patients’ lives in a way that they did not expect of a pharmacist.

Finally, find yourself a teacher. Not necessarily the kind of teacher that you have experienced in your formal education, but a colleague from whom you can continue to learn as you grow as a professional, he said.”

Andrew Coop, PhD, professor and former chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC); Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, professor and former chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science; and Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, CGP, BCACP, FAPhA, associate dean for student affairs and associate professor in PPS; joined Eddington in presenting graduates with their doctoral hoods to signify their completion of the highest professional degree in pharmacy.

“Donning the traditional olive colored pharmacy hood represents the fact that you have entered a caring profession that depends upon your proper use of scientific and clinical knowledge,” said Eddington. “You must care for your patients with compassion as well as intelligence. You will be trusted by patients – do not underestimate the importance of that trust, nor treat it lightly. You will have an impact on peoples’ lives.”

Fourteen graduating PhD students from the School’s PSC and pharmaceutical health services research (PHSR) departments received their hoods during the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Graduate School ceremony on May 14. The School’s Master of Science in Pharmacometrics program also celebrated its second graduating class, which included six students, including Phil Sabato, who also graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

“I knew from early in the PharmD program that I wanted to involve myself in a research-based career in a non-traditional pharmacy setting,” he says. The MS of Pharmacometrics was presented as a way to grow as a drug-development decision maker, while utilizing my clinical skillset in the industry or regulatory landscape. The two degrees complement each other nicely by giving me a strong foundational clinical background from the PharmD program with a more technical-based and industry driven skill-set in the field of translational medicine. By obtaining the training in both programs, it makes me a better rounded professional in a variety of clinical pharmacology settings. I feel more than prepared to excel given the exceptional training that was provided to me in both the PharmD program and the MS of Pharmacometrics program.”

Following the School’s morning convocation ceremony, graduates assembled in the afternoon for a campus-wide graduation ceremony at the Baltimore Arena, where William “Brit” Kirwan, the retiring chancellor of the University System of Maryland, delivered the keynote address. Also at the ceremony, Kermit Crawford, the retired president of pharmacy and the health care wellness division at Walgreens, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree, for which she was nominated by the School of Pharmacy

“As a leader at Walgreens, Mr. Crawford has implemented a transformation in community pharmacy,” said Eddington. “His efforts have changed community pharmacy from a transaction-based practice, focused on dispensing, to one focused on access to affordable, quality care provided by pharmacists and other health care professionals.

“Mr. Crawford, who retired in late 2014, is an example of a strong advocate for what community pharmacy should be. He lives the ideals of advocacy and interprofessionalism that the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy espouses to our faculty and students. He has a strong progressive vision for the future of community pharmacy, a vision shared by the School of Pharmacy.”

To view convocation photos, please visit the School of Pharmacy’s Facebook page.

Class of 2015 Awards and Prizes:

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