UCSF School of Pharmacy celebrates Commencement 2017

The best of the best—accomplished, diverse, determined, compassionate

The UCSF School of Pharmacy conferred the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree on 120 graduates at its 2017 commencement on May 19 at Louise Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, addressed a gathering that included more than 1,000 of the graduates’ family, friends, and colleagues, as well as School faculty members and special guests. In his remarks, he celebrated the graduates’ diversity, breadth of experience, empathy, and perseverance.

“We are inspired by your respect for others and passion to serve, your ability to overcome life challenges, your potential to shape the profession,” Guglielmo said. “Many of you were inspired to make a difference in health care through service. You worked on Alzheimer’s awareness, cancer prevention, health disparities, suicide awareness for LGBTQ youth, human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault, homelessness, and adult literacy.”

Four years ago, this group of students was selected from an applicant pool of more than 1,300 because, as Guglielmo said, “You made it clear to us what you and you alone would uniquely bring to the School and the profession.” He noted that one quarter of the class was born outside the United States, and many came from careers outside health care: they were musicians and artists, editors and designers, dancers and actors, community activists, experts in martial arts, and fitness instructors.

Class of 2017

The PharmD Class of 2017 gathered with family, friends, faculty, and colleagues at commencement. Left to right: Malini Madhusudhan, Scott Hampton, Gabriel Wong.

Leading the procession of graduates as honorary marshal was 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Donald T. Kishi, PharmD ’68, associate dean of student and curricular affairs and a professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, who has received myriad honors for his work as an educator and dedicated practitioner.

In the late 60s, shortly after earning his PharmD degree, Kishi joined the small group of UCSF faculty members who pioneered, advocated, and advanced the practice of clinical pharmacy both at UCSF and globally. Kishi has served with distinction in numerous academic and administrative roles at UCSF, and his record of leadership service includes past-president of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists and current president of the UCSF Alumni Association.

Thanh Le, PharmD, one of two graduates chosen by the class to speak at the ceremony, emphasized the value of her classmates’ compassion in addition to their “amazing” resumes and CVs.

“It’s not only what we do in our jobs, but how we do it,” said Le, who will begin a residency in ambulatory care at the Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System. “I’ve witnessed your leadership, and I know you will never stop questioning the status quo. I know, in ten years, I will read about your impact on pharmacy.”

Wong receives Bowl of Hygeia

Ceremony highlights included the presentation of the Bowl of Hygeia Award, the School’s highest honor bestowed upon a graduating student. The award’s five nominees are chosen by their classmates as those “who best exemplify the qualities most desirable in a pharmacist.”

Wong with Bowl of Hygeia

Gabriel Wong, PharmD Class of 2017, received the Bowl of Hygeia Award, the School’s highest honor bestowed upon a graduating student.

The 2017 recipient, selected by a second round of voting by faculty and students, is Gabriel Wong, PharmD, who demonstrated his commitment to pharmacy and leadership skills at UCSF through his involvement in numerous professional organizations, committees, and student governance, including serving as current class president. Wong has already started his new job as a health economics and outcomes research manager at Gilead Sciences.

Wong was presented the award by Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, president of the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association and CEO/co-founder of Komoto Healthcare.

Also called forward for special recognition as Bowl of Hygeia nominees were:

  • Kari Ehm, PharmD, who will begin a pharmacy practice residency this summer at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona
  • Joseph Styers, PharmD, who will begin a pharmacy practice residency with NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield in July
  • Meghan Whalen, PharmD, who is entering UCSF’s PhD program in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics
  • Sierra Young, PharmD, who will be completing a pharmacy practice residency at UC Davis Medical Center

The next generation of pharmacy leaders

The 2017 commencement address was delivered by Diana Hendel, PharmD ’89, a nationally recognized health care leader who started her career at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center as a pharmacy resident. Hendel was promoted to progressive leadership roles within the MemorialCare Health System, including, from 2009 to 2015, her tenure as CEO of Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital, and Community Hospital Long Beach.

“You are the best of the best,” Hendel said. “By completing UCSF’s doctor of pharmacy program you are officially becoming part of something bigger than yourselves. Today launches you into a professional career in health care at a time you are critically needed.”

Hendel encouraged the graduates to embrace four practices she found invaluable throughout her career:

  • Establish a formal relationship with a mentor, and become a mentor to others.
  • Adopt the operating mode of “optimalism” to achieve the best possible outcomes amid real world challenges.
  • Create a personal mission statement and update it regularly.
  • Always act with “kindness, compassion, and respect.”

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” Hendel said, further advising the graduates to use their training to build on the belief that health care is a fundamental right. “We need you to spearhead new models of patient care and alternatives to the traditional health care setting. As change agents and catalysts, you are our next generation of leaders.”

Before conferring the doctor of pharmacy degree on members of the Class of 2017, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, lauded the graduates for leaving a legacy “enriched by your passion and hard work.” Hawgood continued, “You are graduating at a time of change. Science has made progress, but there are also new expectations from the public. The future is in your hands.”

Jaspreet Singh Khaira and Chancellor Hawgood

Jaspreet Singh Khaira, PharmD Class of 2017 (left), is congratulated by Chancellor Sam Hawgood.

Dean Guglielmo led the hooding of graduates, assisted by Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, and by Kishi and Komoto. As they did at their White Coat ceremony four years before, the graduates affirmed the Oath of a Pharmacist, led by Kishi, who welcomed them as professional colleagues and asked them, before beginning the oath: “Please stand and face your relatives and friends, who symbolically represent your future patients.”

Guglielmo concluded the ceremony with a call to action, saying this was “a particularly challenging time for our country,” where “the values and rights of patients are threatened.” He continued, “It’s a time of activism. You have the ability to provide to patients in need your deep respect for differences, your inclusivity, your passion for serving others, your commitment to patients, your ability to address the most substantial challenges head-on. You are a very special class.”

Olivia Nathan smiling

Olivia G. Nathan, PharmD Class of 2017

smiling graduate

Stephanie Ho, PharmD Class of 2017

graduates applauding

Graduates of the PharmD Class of 2017 included Tiffany Renee Buckley (center), Thanh Le (left ), and Sierra Young (right).

Surofchy and baby, with Guglielmo

Dalga Surofchy, PharmD Class of 2017 (with his baby son wearing the hood), is congratulated by Dean Guglielmo.

graduate with slogan on hat: "Mexico does send its best"

The graduates of the PharmD Class of 2017 are accomplished, diverse, determined, and compassionate.

graduates hugging

The PharmD Commencement brings proud moments, smiles and tears with friends and family, and most of all, celebration.

graduate with flower lei

James Co Go, PharmD Class of 2017

Class of 2017 graduates

Graduates of the PharmD Class of 2017 recite the Oath of a Pharmacist (left to right): Jason Kirkwood, Kerry Kuang, Kimberly Lau.


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.