The Class of 2015 Crosses the Big Stage

At the 108th School of Pharmacy Commencement, 182 Doctor of Pharmacy, 13 Doctor of Philosophy, 5 Doctor of Regulatory Science and 52 Master of Science degrees were awarded during the May 15th ceremony held on the Health Sciences Campus Quad before an audience of nearly 1,500.

_MG_4040Dean R. Pete Vanderveen presided over the ceremony which featured a commencement address from Sean Astin, film star and mental health advocate. Astin is best known for his role as Samwise Gamgee in the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy and in the title role of the biopic “Rudy.” Astin spoke about mental health issues, including those that his mother, actress Patty Duke, confronted when she worked through depression and substance abuse. She was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

_MG_4121Astin concluded his remarks with a quote from his character, Samwise, in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” when he tells the film’s hero, “‘Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.’” When asked what they were holding on to, he said, “’That there’s some good in this world….and it’s worth fighting for.’”

Astin closed by telling the new graduates, “Go forth in the world and Fight On from a UCLA Bruin.”

_MG_4659Speaking on behalf of the graduates were Candice Chiaramonte, president of the PharmD class, and Anketse Debebe, representing graduate students. Susie Park, associate professor, recognized student award winners, Rho Chi members and Phi Lambda Sigma (PLS) members. Rho Chi is the national honor society of pharmacy whose membership includes students with high academic standing and PLS is the profession’s leadership society.

Leading students in the processional were Andy Gelejian and Bijan Sabouri, bearing the School’s flag and banner. Faculty marshals included Kathleen Hill Besinque, Cynthia Lieu and Susie Park. Michael Wincor, associate dean of global initiatives and technology, acknowledged family and friends for their support of the graduates during their years of study and work that culminated today. Administering the “Oath of the Pharmacist” was Steven Chen, chair of the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy.

_MG_4238In addition to the professional Doctor of Pharmacy degree, the School also awarded the professional Doctor of Regulatory Science degree, the only such degree in the nation. Doctor of Philosophy degrees were awarded in Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy.Master of Science degrees were given in Management of Drug Development, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Regulatory Science. Executive Vice Dean Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, Associate Dean Fred Weissman, and Department Chairs Steven Chen and Curtis Okamoto called the various graduates to receive their degrees.

_MG_4473The ceremony also marked the completion of residency and fellowship programs. Forty-four pharmacists completed one or two-year pharmacy practice residencies specializing in ambulatory care, acute care, community pharmacy, managed care, oncology, pharmacy administration, cardiology or psychiatry. Certificates marking fellowship completion were also awarded in various pharmaceutical industry specialties and academic pharmacy. The School teams up with Allergan for fellowship training.

Dean Vanderveen toasted the graduates, reminding them to “take what you’ve learned here and make a difference in a world that needs your talents.”

_MG_0992The ceremony concluded with the familiar rumble of the Trojan Marching band, bringing graduates and audience members to their feet. A reception followed in the Edmondson Faculty Center and Seaver Marketplace. Kathi Horgan directs the School’s annual commencement ceremony.

Missed the ceremony? Watch the recorded webcast.