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College of Pharmacy

  • Courtney Jackson speaking at podium

Graduates Honored in Convocation and Hooding Ceremony

After persevering through four years of grueling hours of classroom lectures, studying, taking exams and even a pandemic during their final year of rotations, the May 5 Convocation & Hooding ceremony, was a momentous milestone for the Class of 2021.

The 103 Pharm.D. graduates and one Ph.D. graduate gathered with a limited number of family and friends at the Koger Center for the ceremony, while there were more than 5,000 livestream views of the event.

Several members from the Class of 2020 returned to celebrate their accomplishments since the 2020 hooding ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Hooding is a significant event - the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance. Celebrating the achievement of these graduates is one of my favorite days of the year.

Stephen J. Cutler, Ph.D.  Dean, College of Pharmacy

Stephen J. Cutler, dean of the College of Pharmacy, congratulated the graduates and shared a special thank you to their family and friends.

“You cheered these graduates on and up especially when they needed it,” he said during his remarks.

“The pandemic has changed all our lives,” he noted. “Hooding is a significant event - the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance. Celebrating the achievement of these graduates is one of my favorite days of the year. For you, the graduates of 2020 and 2021, it will truly be one of the best days of your lives.”

Cutler reminded graduates that just four years ago they were also in the same Koger Center auditorium receiving their white coats as first-year pharmacy students.

“Some of you had never stepped behind the counter of a pharmacy, and today you are serving patients as a Doctor of Pharmacy. You have passed each milestone that we put in front of you,” he said. “You applied information and you learned to help patients. You have already impacted scores of lives.”

Graduate Courtney Jackson, who was named the class speaker during last year’s student awards, recalled when the class began their journey to become pharmacists.

“We forged a bond amongst each other and accomplished great things. Continue to learn, continue to grow and know more,” she says. “Maintain our compassion for others. We must remember that as we interact with our patients and their loved ones. People will always remember that you were kind to them.”

Julia Mims, ’74 and ’96, shared her thoughts as the 2021 Outstanding Alumni of the Year and recalled how the role of clinical pharmacists has changed since she was a pharmacy student.

“Clinical pharmacists are now valued members of the health care team. This pandemic has changed the practice of pharmacy and the world forever. Medical knowledge now doubles every 73 days,” she said. “Change is the one constant of my career and my advice is to be open to change. It can be scary but also liberating.”

She also encouraged the new graduates to find a mentor with whom they can share their successes and disappointments.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. You cannot know success if you have never failed,” she remarked. “Be a lifelong learner. Include people with different points of view. Find your passion and pursue it with a sense of urgency.”

As Dean Cutler concluded the ceremony, he reminded students they are different than when they first walked into the Koger Center.

“You have the knowledge and responsibility going forward. You are practicing professionals. You are ready,” he added. “You are already saving and improving lives. You are problem solvers, communicators, and team leaders ready to provide patient-centric care. You will have a positive impact on the ever-changing role in our health care system.”


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