It was a graduation ceremony unlike any other in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s 97-year history. Instead of filling Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to celebrate with family, friends and classmates, members of the class of 2020 gathered around their televisions and computers to commemorate their graduation day virtually.
While the coronavirus pandemic forced the College of Pharmacy to alter its commencement plans, the May 16 virtual ceremony included many of the traditions expected at graduation. Pomp and Circumstance played at the beginning of the ceremony, Dean Julie Johnson gave her opening remarks and conferred the degrees, class representatives gave their motivational speeches and the UF Alma Mater concluded the event. Each of the 262 graduates earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree had their names read, while a slide featuring their photo appeared on the screen.
“The College of Pharmacy was not going to let the pandemic prevent us from marking an important milestone in the lives of our graduates,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure we celebrated all the good things that made the class of 2020 special. Our hope is these graduates remember all the ways they have been enriched by the UF College of Pharmacy, because they have certainly enriched us.”
Nearly 800 unique devices from 11 different countries watched the 70-minute virtual ceremony. The global audience witnessed class representatives from the Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando campuses offering their parting words of wisdom to their fellow classmates.
“This great university has taught me so much,” said Jeremy Obordo, Pharm.D., from the Jacksonville campus. “I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences we have shared and the memories we have made. You have been an inspiration to me in the way that you pursued excellence, lifted up friends, accepted and provided mentorship and selflessly helped others.”
In addition to the Pharm.D. graduates, the University of Florida conferred six Doctor of Philosophy and 59 Master of Science degrees to College of Pharmacy students in spring 2020.