Making History

The new USF College of Pharmacy celebrates the entry of its inaugural class into the profession

It was a day for making history. A celebration punctuated by bittersweet moments.

“We’re making history and paving the way for future generations of USF pharmacy students,” said Hillary Silvestri, 21. “Only a small number of people can say they started out as part of an inaugural class. It’s great to be a part of that.”

Silvestri was among 53 students who donned their first white coats Sept. 16 at the USF College of Pharmacy’s first white coat ceremony.

Above: Hillary Silvestri, a member of the USF College of Pharmacy Class of 2015  is helped into her white coat by Dr. Glenn Whelan, a charter faculty member.

As students stood together on a gleaming wood floor in the grand concert hall of the newly opened School of Music, applauded and cheered by the audience, it was hard to tell who was beaming more. The charter class, or their founding dean.

Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, first dean of the College of Pharmacy, acknowledged it was an emotional day for him as he congratulated the students, recognized his faculty and staff, and thanked the university and community leaders who helped create USF Health’s fourth and newest college.

Even before the newly recruited students came together as a formal class for orientation, they befriended one another this summer through Facebook. And, as made their way down to aisle to concert hall stage, they waved to one of the cameras streaming the white coat ceremony live via Facebook to family members and friends who could not attend.

Students wave to the camera streaming their white coat ceremony via Facebook.

USF President Judy Genshaft opened the ceremony, welcoming attendees and recognizing the significance of the white coat as a symbol of entry into the pharmacy profession and responsibility to provide the highest standard of care.

“This is a historical day for the University of South Florida and USF Health,” Genshaft said. “Today as our students put on their white coats for the very first time it will be a symbolic step toward fulfilling our shared ambitions to revolutionize health care, to improve patient treatment and to save lives… They bring us a sense of optimism and hope for the future.”

Jenna Hope Wood of the Class of 2015 sings the National Anthem.

Dr. Sneed said he’s confident the inaugural class will meet the high expectations set for USF’s four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program, built on four pillars: medication management for the elderly, pharmacogenomics, leadership and management skills, and health information technology and medical informatics.

The students selected possess the emotional intelligence traits, including collaboration, creativity and compassion, needed to embrace the challenges of a changing health care system, Dr. Sneed said. “We’ve been very diligent in recruiting some of the most talented people to lead the pharmacy profession into this new era of transformation in health care.”

One of the talented students among the initial group selected for admission was Tucker McCarty, 21, of St. Augustine, FL, who made USF his first choice for pharmacy school. Tucker had worked at his mother’s pharmacy during high school and often visited with the elderly patients to whom he delivered medications. His young life was cut short two days after interviewing at USF when he died in a car accident.


L:  Dr. Kevin Sneed, founding dean of the USF College of Pharmacy, presents Tucker MaCarty’s white coat to his parents Delaine and Obie McCarty.  R: Delaine McCarty, a pharmacist, congratulates the students and thanks the College of Pharmacy for honoring Tucker.

“It left a palpable void in the inaugural Class of 2015,” said Heather Petrelli, assistant dean for student affairs and assessment in the College of Pharmacy, choking back tears at the podium. “In the hearts of the admissions committee faculty and staff, Tucker has always been a member of our inaugural class.”

Petrelli invited Tucker’s mother and father, Obie and Delaine Tucker, onto the stage to accept a white coat bearing their son’s name and the college seal.

In another poignant moment, Dr. Sneed called for a moment of silence to honor Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Tampa Bay Bucs star Lee Roy Selmon, a champion of the USF Athletics Department, who passed away earlier this month.

Dr. Sneed asked for a moment of silence in honor of friend and mentor Lee Roy Selmon.

Dr. Sneed called Selmon a close friend and mentor. “Lee Roy was so excited about the pharmacy school, and he patiently took the time to listen to me go on and on about the program,” he said. “He had a way of making everyone feel welcome.”

The Dean’s Awards, the college’s highest honor, were presented to four people Dr. Sneed credited as instrumental in helping create the USF College of Pharmacy – USF President Judy Genshaft; Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO for USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine; Patricia Haynie, former associate vice president from strategic planning and policy; and USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

L-R: USF Health CEO and Medical Dean Dr. Stephen Klasko and USF President Judy Genshaft received Dean’s Awards in the form of pharmacy’s symbolic bowl of Hygieia from Dr. Sneed.  Also honored for their dedication in helping create the College of Pharmacy were USF Health’s Patricia Haynie and USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

Keynote speaker Daniel Buffington, PharmD, MBA, chair of the USF College of Pharmacy Board of Advisors, offered words of encouragement while emphasizing the need for students to build a professional identity founded on integrity, ethical behavior and honor.

“How you approach the next four years will shape how prepared you are to make a positive impact on patients’ lives and to make positive changes on what is obviously an evolving healthcare system,” Dr. Buffington said. “Wear the white coat with humility and a spirit of empathy and compassion.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Daniel Buffington

Following a recitation of the an oath of professionalism by the students, closing remarks were delivered by Mark LaBossiere of the Class of 2015 and James Martinez, RPh, a member of the college’s board of advisors and owner of Fletcher Medical Center Pharmacy.

“Our student body has a diverse variety of talents and backgrounds that will allow us to grow in ways never imagined,” said LaBossiere, the first student accepted into the College of Pharmacy. “As the Class of 2015, we’ll travel uncharted territory, set the bar for those who follow and continue to make history – go Bulls!”


Dr. Angela Hill, professor and chair of pharmacogenetics & clinical research at the USF College of Pharmacy, leads newly coated students in an oath of professionalism.

The admission of USF’s first pharmacy class last month was the culmination of four years of hard work to win funding and state approval for a pharmacy program strategically designed to be a national model of innovation, while helping fulfill the state’s critical need for more pharmacists.

“I’m so excited to be here,” said student Sam Aminov, 23, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University and ultimately hopes to be the CEO of a hospital. “I looked at pharmacy programs all over the country and there’s no other like USF’s.

“Health care is definitely changing over the next 10 to 15 years and I feel this program, with its focus on interprofessional collaboration, is well equipped to prepare us for that.”


The students of the inaugural USF College of Pharmacy Class of 2015 are:

Tiffany Adkison                   Jennifer Jasa                        Dominique Nguyen
Luisa Alvarado                    Noriko Kay Thuy                Thi Nguyen
Dalinda Amilcka                  Mark LaBossiere                 Nikki Norring
Sam Aminov                         John Land III                      Aakash Patel
Chrystine Antle                   Phuong Le John                  Walter Phillips IV
Brandi Basye                         Tory Lee                                Shafaat Pirani
Phillip Bonet                          Lisa Luong                            Morgen Schmitt
Catherine Caraway              Kayla Mackanin                  Nathan Seligson
Jim Cilli                                    Tucker McCarty                  Minal Shah
Kevin Cowart                         Patrick McKeon II              Richa Sheth
Justyna Czerniewska          Nalisha Minors                     Hillary Silvestri
Ashley Dridi                           Laura Molander                   Tia Stokes
Frank J. Fernandez             Azizah Muhammad              Bradley Tillander
Jim F. Fleurinor                   Mary Munchalfen                 Theresa Trindade
Neal Genilo                             Misty Muscarella                  Rossina M. Valarezo
Jennifer Grant                       Chetan Nagar                          Krista Williams
Amber Hoffman                    Athar Karim Naif                 Jenna Hope Wood
Maryam Ismail                      Alexis Ngo                              Dalia L. Zall

Video by Amy Mariani, story by Anne DeLotto Baier and photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications