Class of ’21 joins ranks of pharmacy at White Coat Ceremony

For the UCSF doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2021, October 13 was the day they officially entered the profession. In a ceremony on the Parnassus campus, each student donned a white coat, a symbol of health care professionals for more than 100 years.

“Today marks your transition from lay person to full-fledged professional,” Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, told the incoming class. “You’re in a program that prepares you to ask questions, to think critically, to solve problems—to think scientifically,” Guglielmo told students. “We expect you to question us—we expect you to question everything.”


Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD ’87

The class was addressed by Assistant Surgeon General Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD ’87, who currently serves as the chief pharmacy officer in the United States Public Health Service. Schweitzer’s distinguished career has included positions in the Indian Health Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During an active and demanding career, she still found the time for family and recreation, raising two daughters and running marathons, flying airplanes and climbing mountains.

Schweitzer emphasized the duty of being a pharmacist and challenged the Class of 2021 to address the needs of the underserved. “Any time you put the white coat on, it inspires authority and trust,” she said. “When you wear it you will stand up straighter.”

Student speaker Ana Cruz, Class of 2018, shared her experiences both of learning the new profession and of becoming a campus advocate for undocumented graduate and professional students.

Kenny and Dean Guglielmo

John Kenny, Jr., Class of 1943, was a special guest at the White Coat Ceremony, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dean Guglielmo.

John Kenny holding certificate, with family

John Kenny, Jr., Class of 1943, celebrated in the dean’s office with family members after receiving an award for his “contributions to the profession of pharmacy and his steadfast service to the community.”

This year’s ceremony included another special guest. A few months ago, Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, received a letter from a UCSF School of Pharmacy graduate who was worried about his degree. John R. Kenny, Jr., earned his bachelor of science degree from UCSF in 1943, before the School offered a PharmD. Now, at age 95, he wanted to return to his alma mater and upgrade his degree.

Kenny was joined by his family, who traveled from across the country to watch him receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Guglielmo, in a building that didn’t exist when Kenny attended UCSF. This year’s class will graduate in the year Kenny turns 99.

The newly coated members of the Class of 2021 stood, faced the audience of gathered family and friends, and formally took the Oath of a Pharmacist, administered by Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. In unison, they promised to “consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns” and to devote themselves to “a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.”

Guglielmo closed the ceremony by saying, “On behalf of the entire school, we are deeply honored to partner with you as we, together, shape the profession of pharmacy and health care.”

students in white coats

Facing the audience together, the newly coated students take their pledge of professionalism—the Oath of a Pharmacist. Left, Ashley Nepomuceno; right, Jimmy Nguyen.

students with white coats

The White Coat Ceremony is a meaningful yearly tradition in which the School welcomes first-year student pharmacists as colleagues dedicated to patient care. During this event, entering students receive a white coat, the symbol of clinical service and care.

three students in white coats

First-year UCSF PharmD students (left to right) Brian Gac, Amna Elsayed, and Kristine Jermakian.

student with family members

First-year UCSF PharmD student Tek Teklehaimanot celebrates with family after the White Coat Ceremony.

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Student speaker Ana Cruz shares her path to pharmacy and activism


School of Pharmacy, 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.

The distinguished career of John R. Kenny, Jr.

John R. Kenny, Jr. served in the Navy in World War II, in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He had a distinguished career in pharmacy that included owning his own pharmacy, working at a drug company, then at Walgreens, and as an executive at the Board of Pharmacy in Milwaukee.

At 50, Kenny went back to school to become an Episcopal deacon, a position he held for over 40 years. His pharmacy license is still active.