153rd Commencement Welcomes Class of 2021 Families Back to Campus

Published on 08 June 2021

Recent graduates of University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis celebrated the 153rd Commencement during individual ceremonies on May 8 and May 29. All ceremonies were held on campus with students, families and friends in attendance, marking the first large-scale event hosted at the University since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

John A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, FFIP, president of the University, who will retire in June, delivered the keynote address for all ceremonies. During his speech, he shared words of wisdom and inspiration for graduating students as they enter the next phase of their career.

"Today marks your entrance into what will surely be very bright careers," Pieper stated. "You will be joining the ranks of our incredible alumni who are impacting patients and communities locally, nationally, and globally. No matter where your path leads you next, I am certain you will go as leaders in your communities, using the gifts and passions that you have always possessed, along with the knowledge, skills and attitudes you have developed at the University."

During his 11 years as president of the University, Pieper propelled the University to new heights by creating a new strategic plan, introducing new undergraduate programs, implementing a new pharmacy curriculum, expanding the University’s campus footprint, enhancing the University’s research agenda by co-founding the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, and increasing student opportunities through collaborative partnerships with peer institutions.

Undergraduate Ceremony

During the undergraduate ceremony, which took place as a single ceremony on May 8, 101 students were eligible for undergraduate degrees.

JoAnne Levy, J.D., MBA, chair of the UHSP Board of Trustees, welcomed guests before introducing Dr. Pieper for his opening remarks. Next, Jasmine Kolawole, B.S. ’21, spoke to the group on behalf of the graduating class, reflecting on the past four years and offering words of encouragement to her peers.

"I am proud of all of my fellow graduates today, and we have gone through so much to get to this point, especially with the additional hardships and changes that came with 2020," Kolawole said. "There aren’t very many graduates that will be able to say that they endured what we did, and I strongly believe that the resilience that this experience instilled in us will only make us better health care professionals."

Following the keynote address by President Pieper, students ceremoniously walked across the stage as Kim Kilgore, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented their degrees.

Doctor of Pharmacy Ceremony

Commencement for those receiving a Doctor of Pharmacy was held in three separate ceremonies on May 29, with 233 students being eligible for degrees.

During the ceremonies, Levy and Pieper again welcomed students and guests then introduced Moataz Mohamed S. Ali, Pharm.D. ’21, who spoke on behalf of the graduating Pharm.D. class about overcoming challenges and reaching this momentous occasion.

"Our journey has been a long road marked by unbelievable challenges, sudden changes and bittersweet moments, and it is with utter gratitude that I share this moment with you all," Ali expressed. "Every one of you sitting here in gowns today has accomplished an achievement that proves your dedication, motivation, resilience and grit. We survived, thrived, and will continue to do so as we make waves in the profession of pharmacy."

President Pieper delivered his keynote address before Brenda Gleason, B.S. ’97, Pharm.D. ’98, interim dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, presented each graduate with their degree. President Pieper next led the Oath of a Pharmacist, where graduates promised themselves to a lifetime of devotion to serving others through the practice of pharmacy. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Alma Mater, led by Tristan Frampton, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of music activities at UHSP.

UHSP students discover their path to success through numerous undergraduate, graduate and professional program pathways, and, as graduates, they pursue careers in a variety of health fields including pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, research and more. Learn more about academic programs at the University.

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