With 365 students graduating from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, the class of 2018 will be remembered for its incredible accomplishments and fond farewells. For the first time ever, three students graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and the college celebrated its final graduating class from the St. Petersburg campus.
The professional degree, or Pharm.D., ceremony held Monday, May 7, at the Stephen O’Connell Center, saw 278 students graduate from all four campuses — Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando and St. Petersburg. Additionally, 20 Working Professional Program students earned their Pharm.D. degree.
Commencement speaker Kenneth L. Massey, Pharm.D., the chief life sciences officer at Saama Technologies, received the 2018 UF College of Pharmacy Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award. Massey, a third-generation pharmacist and 1984 UF pharmacy grad, gave the graduating class four pieces of advice.
“Maintain your expertise.” He said there’s a fine line between being good and being great — so know your stuff.
“Keep the patient as your north star.” Though obvious, Massey said it’s much more difficult in practice when competing interests come into play.
“Develop your leadership skills.” While there is an art to leadership, there’s also a science to it which can be developed through scouring literature.
“Follow your passion and take risks.” Massey has seen the entire continuum of pharmacy: he grew up observing community pharmacy practice, began his career working in academic pharmacy and now works in the pharmaceutical industry overseeing its transformation by artificial intelligence, or AI. He encouraged graduates to be open to change, as opportunities — like working with AI — are unexpected.
The newly minted pharmacists who scored perfect 4.0 GPAs are Nora Bairagdar, Pharm.D., Dan-Tam Nguyen, Pharm.D., and Kelsey Ohman, Pharm.D. The David W. Ramsaur Award, which is usually reserved for a single student with the highest academic performance, went to all three graduating seniors.
The St. Petersburg pharmacy campus celebrated its last graduating class of 50 students. The campus opened in 2002 and trained 684 pharmacists in its 16-year tenure. One representative from the final St. Petersburg graduating class, Richard Weiss, Pharm.D., offered some final remarks to his classmates. “Remember the relationships that helped get you where you are today, and don’t be afraid to reach out,” he said.
In a touching and tearful moment, the college remembered Clay Fischer, a member of the class of 2018, who tragically died more than a year ago. An empty seat with Fischer’s picture was reserved on the front row, and his family accepted his posthumous degree from UF College of Pharmacy Dean Julie Johnson.
Before the Pharm.D. commencement ceremony, seven Ph.D. students and 60 master’s students received their UF degrees Friday, May 4.
View the commencement photo album.