A physically distanced class of 2024 gathered together for the first time Aug. 17, as the University of Florida College of Pharmacy hosted orientation for its first-year students. While face masks are a requirement during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the cloth coverings could not hide the enthusiasm faculty and students shared for finally starting the new school year.
UF’s first-year pharmacy students spent their first day on campus learning about the college’s team-based learning curriculum, meeting their new teammates for active-learning sessions and developing the class creed. Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Teresa Cavanaugh, Pharm.D., welcomed the new Gator pharmacy students to the college and encouraged them to embrace the many opportunities that will come their way the next four years.
The UF College of Pharmacy class of 2024 features 223 students, with 113 attending the Gainesville campus, 73 in Orlando and 37 in Jacksonville. There are 30 out-of-state students from 14 states, Puerto Rico and Belize. Starting a new professional degree program during a pandemic presents all sorts of challenges, but that hasn’t deterred the class of 2024.
Andrew Iten moved to Gainesville from Ohio. He arrived two weeks before classes began to acclimate himself with the city and campus. For Iten, UF emerged as his top choice for a pharmacy college early in the interview process.
“I found the professors and students at UF to be personable, and they made me feel very comfortable in the program,” Iten said. “I wanted to attend a top-ranked pharmacy school, and UF’s [No. 5] ranking really impressed me.”
Gainesville student Eisha Ludtke also committed to the UF College of Pharmacy after an impressive interview day experience.
“When I visited the UF College of Pharmacy for interview day, I was really amazed by the curriculum and the education I would receive here,” Ludtke said. “I lived in Colorado my entire life, so the opportunity to move to a warm weather state like Florida was really appealing to me as well.”
While the new academic year promises to be unlike any other, the UF College of Pharmacy has taken great measures to ensure students are safe. Every student completed a COVID-19 screening prior to starting the academic year and face masks must be worn by all faculty and students when in campus buildings. A hybrid learning model is being used, where only a third of students will be physically present for each class session. The remaining students participate via synchronous videoconference.