209 graduates receive Doctor of Pharmacy degrees at UF College of Pharmacy commencement ceremony

By Tyler Francischine

On May 11, the Stephen C. O’Connell Center reverberated with excited cheers and enthusiastic clapping as the 209 members of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy received their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees during the annual commencement ceremony.

Before each Pharm.D. graduate took to the stage to receive their ceremonial hood, Peter W. Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm., UF College of Pharmacy dean and professor, announced the year’s student, faculty and alumni award winners.

209 members of the Pharm.D. class of 2024 were hooded during the commencement ceremony on May 11.

Dionna Ella-Mae Shine received the Perry A. Foote Award, which honors a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in scholarship, leadership and service. Morgan Taylor LaMarc, Lauren Alexandra Moore, Yiyuan Qu, Rachael Weingarten and Danielle Wilson were each named D.W. Ramsaur Award winners, a recognition honoring the highest academic performers of the class. All five Ramsaur award winners maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout their four years of pharmacy school.

Jennifer Strickland Fowler, Pharm.D. ’98, was recognized with the Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award before she delivered the commencement address to graduates. The chief executive officer of Destination Pet, a national network of professionals dedicated to animal wellness based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, congratulated the class of 2024 and invited them to pause for some well-deserved reflection.

“Today is an ending, and it’s also a beginning. It’s the next step in your future,” she said. “As you stand on the threshold of this new chapter, take a moment today with your friends and family to reflect on the dedication, hard work and resilience that has brought you to this moment.”

Strickland Fowler recounted her own professional journey for the graduates, an initially traditional path that proved to contain twists and turns along the way, eventually bringing her to a place where her career and passions aligned. She assured the class of 2024 that no matter what unexpected opportunities lie in store for them, they already possess the skills and acumen they need to succeed.

“This college taught me very important skills, which you all have been taught, too: communication, critical thinking and most importantly, problem-solving,” Strickland Fowler said. “You are graduating today not just with the ability to recite what you learned but to identify and solve problems. That skill goes well beyond our profession. In fact, every uncomfortable, new opportunity I’ve had has allowed me to do exactly what I learned here: identify problems and solve them. Never underestimate the opportunities that don’t always feel like opportunities. Just say yes. Each of these situations will stretch you, expand your skills and allow you to further excel.”

Danielle Wilson, Pharm.D. ’24, at the May 11 commencement ceremony

The ceremony also featured a senior class address from Danielle Wilson, who served as president, president-elect and financial chair for the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists at the UF College of Pharmacy Orlando campus. A brother of the Beta-Beta chapter of the Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Wilson also served as a student ambassador for the college.

Since childhood, Wilson knew she wanted a career in which she could help others achieve optimal health, but she wasn’t always sure which path would suit her best. As an undergraduate student studying chemistry at UF, Wilson worked at the local, independent Wise’s Pharmacy in Gainesville, an opportunity that convinced her of the far-reaching impact she could create with a career in pharmacy.

“Working at Wise’s Pharmacy, I saw the relationships that the pharmacists there built with people in the community. That made me want to go to pharmacy school even more,” Wilson recalled.

As a student at the UF College of Pharmacy, building connections and relationships was the fuel that kept Wilson motivated through four years of intensive training.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many different people, from my preceptors and current pharmacists to our faculty and all of my friends who I’ve made in all the different cohorts. They’ve helped me through so many difficult things, and they’ve opened so many doors for me. I am the person I am because of these relationships,” she said. “The lesson of how important relationships are is one I’ll carry with me even after pharmacy school.”

When Wilson wasn’t studying, she was volunteering. As a clinic leader in the KNIGHTS Clinic, a tutor for the Rho Chi Honor Society and a volunteer for Camp Boggy Creek, Wilson demonstrated a deep commitment to serving others and picked up invaluable skills to supplement her academic studies.

“Service events like volunteering at clinics help you apply a lot of what you’re learning in the classroom,” Wilson said. “I also think being involved with organizations is incredibly important for developing the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills that we all need to develop as pharmacists and as people.”

As she prepares to continue her pharmacy education as a resident at AdventHealth Orlando this fall and continues to work toward her dream of becoming a clinical pharmacist within a large team of health care providers, Wilson feels grateful for the training and encouragement she received at the UF College of Pharmacy, which she said has made her into a lifelong learner, ever ready to add new skills to her personal tool kit.

“I’m looking forward to making the transition from student to practitioner, growing into my practitioner shoes and being comfortable and confident making decisions about patients by myself,” she said. “I think being a lifelong learner is a great habit to have. I will continue to build my knowledge base and get better at applying that knowledge so that I can best serve my patients.”

Members of the UF College of Pharmacy class of 2024, including 126 master of science in pharmacy graduates and seven Ph.D. graduates, were also recognized during university-wide commencement ceremonies on May 2 and 3.

UF College of Pharmacy Class of 2024

Commencement Photos

These candid photos were taken during the UF College of Pharmacy's commencement ceremony on May 11.

Commencement 2024