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School of Pharmacy Celebrates the Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2022

PharmD graduates lauded for their resilience and courage during an academic career impacted by the pandemic.

Full PharmD class of 2022

By Andrew Tie
May 20, 2022

For the first time in three years, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) community gathered in person to celebrate the graduating Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor on May 20.

A theme throughout the speakers’ remarks at the morning’s convocation ceremony was that of overcoming adversity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy, noted that the pandemic, which broke out during the second semester of the graduates’ second year, shaped their educational experiences.

“When thinking about the PharmD Class of 2022, several words come to mind—resiliency, positivity, and altruism to name a few,” Eddington said. “As the pandemic continued, many of you were on the front lines, participating in vaccination efforts at your rotation sites and at newly established COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Some of you volunteered for these experiences to have a role in helping us recover from COVID-19 and recognizing the real-world public health crisis experience you could gain from serving as vaccinators or dose preparers.”

Dean Eddington also said the pandemic forced the students to become more versed in telehealth and telemedicine than they might have imagined coming into pharmacy school. Despite the challenges, they persevered.

Keynote Speaker Shares Lessons from Career

The Class of 2022 chose Ellen H. Yankellow, PharmD ‘96, BSP ’73, president and CEO of Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, Inc. to be the keynote speaker. Yankellow, a double UMSOP alumna, serves on the School’s Board of Visitors, is one of the School’s Founding Pharmapreneurs, and is the namesake of the Ellen H. Yankellow Grand Atrium in Pharmacy Hall.

In her speech, Yankellow shared the story of her career and lessons learned along the way. She urged the graduates to develop active listening skills, be persistent, and love the pharmacy profession. As she looks into the future, Yankellow said she is optimistic about where the profession is headed.

“You are a group of individuals graduating from one of the top schools of pharmacy in this country,” Yankellow said. “You are the cream of the crop. Your education has exposed you to expertise in key areas shaping the future of pharmacy. Your clinical experience provided interdisciplinary teamwork that positions you to be drug therapy experts. This is a perfect time to put your talents, training, compassion, and ideas into practice.”

Class President Calls Classmates Courageous

Because of the pandemic, graduation provided one of the rare occasions for the entire Class of 2022 to gather in one place. Maria Palmer, president of the PharmD Class of 2022, said the 119-person class hadn’t been in the same room for more than two years until a NAPLEX review session in early May.

Palmer said her classmates showed courage for the way they handled challenges throughout their educational careers.

“Some of us are not only students, but parents and caregivers, who had to take on the responsibility of caring for family and friends during the pandemic,” Palmer said. “Some of us have lost members of our community and families to the COVID-19 pandemic and had the courage to continue caring for our community members and continue forward in the program. Some of us also volunteered in our free time to help with the COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Some of us participated on the newly developed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force and/or participated in rallies to support the Black Lives Matter Movement, LGBTQ+ community, Asian American population, and all indigenous and People of Color communities. These are just a few of the many incredible and courageous actions our class has accomplished.”

Graduates Reflect on the Past Four Years

Following the ceremony, with family, friends, and graduates buzzing around, some took a few moments to look back on their experience at UMSOP.

­­“I’m really excited to see my classmates who I went to white coat ceremony with four years ago graduate together today,” said Lu Chen, PharmD ’22, who will soon begin a position with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Arizona through the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Despite the obstacles created in their second year, Daniel Trisno, PharmD ’22, said the class began to shine and show its adaptability by their third year.

“We were able to get through it, and we all made it through rotations as well,” said Trisno, who is moving back to California for a residency at Stanford Children’s Hospital. “We’re all here, and I’m glad to graduate with all my classmates.”

Many in the Class of 2022 seized the real-world opportunities presented by the two-year public health crisis.

“People are willing to step up when they’re needed,” said Megidelawit Yirefu, PharmD ’22, who moves on to a two-year residency at Johnson and Johnson at Rutgers University. “For our class, it was helping with vaccinations and testing. Everybody showed up.”

The Class of 2022 will carry with them the knowledge from their pharmacy curriculum and the memories they’ve created. For many, it’s the human connections that mattered most.

“I’m going to remember all the people I met, the lifelong friendships, and the bonds I made,” said Brian Njoroge, PharmD ‘22. “We’re continuing to move on with our lives but together. We’re forever intertwined no matter where we go. I’m excited for everybody, and I love you all.”

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

PharmD Class of 2022 Awards and Prizes:

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