University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis Celebrates the Class of 2020
Published on 23 September 2020
On Saturday, Sept. 5, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis recognized the spring 2020 graduates of St. Louis College of Pharmacy with a virtual ceremony for its 152nd Commencement.
As the University’s first virtual Commencement, this year’s celebration was unprecedented, but feelings of pride and celebration shone through the words of the event speakers and via personal messages submitted by the graduates’ family and friends and members of the University community.
During the ceremony, which was livestreamed on the University’s social media channels, 224 undergraduate and professional degrees were conferred.
The Class of 2020 featured graduates from 22 states and five countries and included 101 students receiving a Doctor of Pharmacy, 100 students receiving a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 16 students receiving a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, six students receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Health Humanities and one student receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Medical Humanities.
Elaine Haynes, B.S. ’86, former chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and current at-large Board member, welcomed the speakers and guests, and John. A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, president of the University, provided opening remarks.
“Today’s graduates have faced challenges and changes unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetime,” stated Pieper. “They have done so with strength, grace and resiliency. I believe today’s graduates and their fellow students at our University are smarter, more dedicated to community service, more passionate about patient care and work harder than any other students studying pharmacy and health sciences in the United States.”
P2 student and Undergraduate Class President Yearam Esther Tak spoke about the strong bonds she shares with her classmates and her hopes for the future.
“My fellow classmates, I will always carry a piece of you in my story,” Tak stated. “We, the Class of 2020, will always carry a piece of each other. I sincerely hope that the positive impact we’ve made on each other will make a positive impact on our lives and careers and help us leave a great legacy in our communities, just as we’ve left UHSP a warmer and brighter place.”
Lauren McCulley, 2020 graduate and former professional class president, described the significance of entering the pharmacy profession in the middle of a pandemic.
“I can’t think of a better, more prepared class to step out as newly licensed pharmacists during a pandemic,” McCulley stated. “We’ve persevered through challenges, leaned on each other and on the faculty and staff who fought for us and encouraged us along the way. Now we are joining our professors on the front lines of this pandemic—not as students, but as pharmacists—and transitioning to become the successful pharmacists they taught us to be.”
Bruce Canaday, Pharm.D, FASHP, FAPhA, dean emeritus of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, congratulated the Class of 2020, and the Commencement address was delivered by William A. Miller, Pharm.D., professor emeritus of clinical and administrative pharmacy at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.
Miller has held leadership positions at Memphis City Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina Health University Medical Center, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy and the College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Miller is a past president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. He also served on the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Commission on Credentialing and is a past recipient of both the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Paul F. Parker Medal Award and the 2020 Harvey A.K. Whitney Lecture Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Miller spoke about trends that will affect the future of pharmacy and health care and advised students on the challenges and opportunities they will face as practitioners. He emphasized the moral dimension of health care by calling on graduates to be advocates for health care and health care access.
“I’m optimistic about the future of pharmacy,” Miller explained. “I’ve seen pharmacy change over the last few decades with a greater emphasis on patient care. As a profession, we need to advocate for the role of pharmacists in health care and create opportunities for our patients to have better, more affordable access to care.”
Kimberly Kilgore, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Brenda L. Gleason, B.S. ’97, Pharm.D. ’98, interim dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, presented the candidates for degrees, and President Pieper conferred the degrees.
Haynes led the graduates and pharmacists in attendance in reciting the Oath of a Pharmacist, pledging a lifetime of serving others through the practice of pharmacy, and Pieper concluded the event by recognizing this year’s graduates.
“Class of 2020, it is my honor to call you alumni, and I look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish,” stated Pieper. “Even in this unprecedented time in history, you have risen above the challenges and accomplished so much.”