University of South Florida

USF Pharmacy Class of 2019 welcomed with their first white coats [video]

Know who you are, never compromise your ethics, embrace change, and respect your team.

These were a few of several insights Rhea Law shared with the incoming class to the USF College of Pharmacy at this year’s White Coat ceremony, where freshman students were presented with their first white coat as they embark on their path to becoming pharmacists. The event was held Sept. 11 in the Ballroom of the Marshal Student Center.

College of Pharmacy Whitecoat Ceremony Class of 2019

Rhea Law addresses the Class of 2019.

As keynote speaker, Ms. Law faced the 96 students in a room filled with family and friends and pulled from her own lessons learned from a full career in law and in championing USF and many of its programs.

“Have that North Star to follow, a focus,” she urged. “Maintain strong ethical standards as you protect your reputation. Embrace change, because without change there would be no new opportunities. Respect your team because there is a direct correlation between team work and patient safety. And always respect the impact you have on those you’re serving.”

As a strong supporter for launching the USF pharmacy program, Ms. Law shared with everyone the joy she sees in watching this young program grow.

“It’s a pleasure to see the results,” she said. “When the Board of Governors originally approved the pharmacy degree, we focused on something that would be innovative and take pharmacy to the next level. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing in this program.”

In applauding Dr. Sneed for his unwavering drive to get the pharmacy program going, Ms. Law said “He never lost focus and he never lost heart.”

Emceeing the event was Melissa Ruble, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacotherapeutics and clinical research in the USF College of Pharmacy, who reminded the students of the qualities a white coat symbolizes.

College of Pharmacy Whitecoat Ceremony Class of 2019

Dr. Melissa Ruble emceed the event.

“Receipt of your first white coat is a very personal and special occasion,” Dr. Ruble said. “Although the white coat in and of itself does not contain any magical powers, one cannot help but feel different when cloaked. The coat provides a sense of confidence and immediate awareness of the associated professional obligations, responsibility and accountability.”

Each first-year student received a coat donated through funds raised by faculty, staff, parents, community members and other friends of the college. The additional monies raised above the cost of the coats will help support pharmacy student scholarships.

College of Pharmacy Whitecoat Ceremony Class of 2019


Ed Funai, MD, chief operating officer for USF Health, urged the Pharmacy Class of 2019 to always keep patients in mind.

Dr. Ed Funai.

Dr. Ed Funai.

“The white coat ceremony is one of the most pivotal events in your career,” Dr. Funai said. “It symbolizes the trust patients put in us. And patients need to be at the center of all that you do. You all now, more than ever, play an integral role in delivering safe, effective, cost-effective and interdisciplinary care to your patients.”

The students were also welcomed into their new profession by leading representatives of all four USF Health Colleges:  Dr. Bryan Bognar, vice dean of educational affairs for the Morsani College of Medicine; Dr. William Quillen, director of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; Dr. Dianne Morrison-Beedy, dean of the College of Nursing; and Rita DeBate, associate dean of academic and student affairs for the College of Public Health.



Then, for those of the 96 freshmen who might be new to campus, USF System President Judy Genshaft provided a quick lesson for making the “Bulls” sign with their hands and yelling “Go Bulls.” For the entire group, she urged “Every time you give a prescription out, say Go Bulls!”

USF System President Judy Genshaft.

USF System President Judy Genshaft.

College of Pharmacy Dean Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, welcomed everyone and shared the news that the young school, which graduated its first class in May this year, received full accreditation “July 8, 2015, at 11:58 a.m.,” Dr. Sneed stated, adding with a laugh, “But who’s counting?”

Dr. Kevin Sneed.

Dr. Kevin Sneed.

“Our stated mission is to revolutionize health through empowerment and innovation,” Dr. Sneed said. “Our focus on population health, personalized medicine, and informatics will establish a new standard for the profession of pharmacy. We also believe very strongly that healthcare is rapidly evolving into a patient-centered care model, one that will require healthcare teams to work together to achieve the best possible health outcomes for entire communities, all the way to single individuals. USF Health, with our College of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and our School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and our soon to be Physician’s Assistant program, is one of the best positioned schools in the country to achieve true interprofessional education, creating the best trained workforce for the future. This stampede into the future, in true USF Bulls fashion, for the pharmacy Class of 2019 begins today.”

In sharing highlights of the college’s young history, Dr. Sneed included the early-on efforts by Ms. Law, who was chair of the USF Board of Trustees at the time and advocated for the program to be approved. In recognition of those efforts, Dr. Sneed presented Ms. Law with the College’s highest award, the Dean’s Award – the Bowl of Hygia – a symbol of the pharmacy profession for centuries with its foundation in Greek mythology.

Dr. Sneed then recognized third-year pharmacy student John Pasciak for being named a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides scholarship to military veterans.

Then each student was helped by College of Pharmacy faculty as they put on their own white, which included their name embroidered on the front and a note from its donor in the pocket.

Brandon Welch dons his first white coat.

Brandon Welch dons his first white coat.

Pharmacy students take the Oath of Professionalism.

Pharmacy students take the Oath of Professionalism.

Led by Angela M. Hill, PharmD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacotherapeutics and Clinical Research and associate dean of Clinical Affairs for the USF College of Pharmacy, the Class of 2019 stood together and, in unison, took the Oath of Professionalism. Together, they pledged their commitment to integrity, ethical behavior and honor that are hallmarks of the pharmacy profession.

College of Pharmacy Class of 2019

College of Pharmacy Class of 2019

USF College of Pharmacy Class of 2019

Of the 96 students, here is the statistical breakdown similar to what was provided last year:

– 96 students (57 percent women, 43 percent men)

– 52 percent represent students from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds

– 36 percent are first-generation college students


Jessica Acosta

Jazmin Garcia

Katherine O’Malley

Marissa Aloyo

Sheida Ghominejad

Julie Orellana

Zinab Antar

Louis Go

Timothy Padawer

Emma Applebaum

Doris Grimaldi

Pariya Paliehvash

Sharon Baby

Kyle Guerrero

Joel Perez

Melissa Bailey

Wesley Hamlin

Lisa Phan

Robert Belz, Jr.

Mohammad Hasan

Tu Phan

Nikesh Bhika

Tien Hoang

Joseph Plourde

David Bohunicky

Megan Holbrook

Luis Alonso Polanco

Andres Brito

Mindy Huynh

Brittany Rollins

Ashley Brown

Sarah Youssef Jacob

Chelsea Russell

Roland Cadet

Stanley Jean-Charles

Jordan Sachmann

Chelsea Campbell

Jake Johnson

Isis Sanders

Jessica Cashwell

Tyler King

Ruben Santana

Ron Cheung

Charles Kohler

Brandon Schafer

Min Choi

Dionne Lawrie

Derek Schulz

Brianna Choyce

Hang Le

Erin Selfridge

Kasey Coffin

Anissa Lewis

Kajri Shah

Paige Cooke

Corey Lewis

Vasthie St. Juste

Hanna Coumans

Javier Martiney

Alyese Stapf

Amber Cox

Jennifer Marvin

Fredric Starling

Maria Datcu

Cory McNerney

Molly Swango

Snehal Desai

Stephanie Metcalf

Vanessa Tomm

Nicole Dixon

Nicholas Micciche

Linda Tran

Nosayawe Edokpayi

Adriana Molodecki

Lekendra Upshur

Jose Espinoza

Kevin Moore

Kristal Urena

Susan Carolyn Faiz

April Nguyen

Amar Vala

Bryan Figler

Thien Nguyen

Colin Van Ostran

Elise Fishel

Tien Nguyen

Brandon Welch

Brandon Fraga

Daniel Ninh

Mitchell West

Christopher Fung-On

Jenna Nixon

Nada Yassein

Jean Gaibort

Matthew Noble

Jacqueline Zembron


Network-wide options by YD - Freelance Wordpress Developer