Pomp, circumstance, and pride at Class of 2024 commencement

An unexpected power outage in the neighborhood surrounding Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall brought a slight plot twist to the UCSF School of Pharmacy’s PharmD Class of 2024 commencement on the evening of May 16. Power was restored just in time for a smooth and energized celebration as hundreds of friends, family, faculty and staff members, and special guests filed in for a ceremony that quickly regrouped once power was restored and started only 15 minutes late.

Cheers and chants throughout the event illustrated the camaraderie among the Class of ’24, whose 120 graduates represent a global village—24 percent were born in other countries including Hong Kong, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“You arrived at UCSF in the summer of 2021, when we were just beginning to emerge from an unforgettable COVID-19 pandemic that we are still feeling ripple effects from,” said Dean Kathy Giacomini, PhD, BSPharm, in her opening remarks. “You created a thriving community among your classmates, building your clinical skills and gaining invaluable practice experiences.”

Relating how the Class of ’24 was already making their mark on the profession of pharmacy and health care, Giacomini spoke about the impact of creating new providers, new professionals, and new roles for pharmacists.

“It’s about access,” she said. “That’s why diversity, equity, and inclusion are so important, and DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] is part of your class identity. It’s who you are.”

Giacomini congratulated the class for their success in matching residencies, obtaining fellowships, seeking additional advanced degrees, and landing jobs. She then introduced student speakers selected by the class before announcing faculty members and mentors chosen by the class for their excellence.

Jackob and Luk provide class reflections

Arbelena Jackob, PharmD ’24, reminded her classmates about the importance of empathy, compassion, and integrity. “We are entrusted with the power to bring relief and comfort to the lives of individuals, families, and society,” she said. “We won’t know how to solve every problem that comes our way, but UCSF has given us the tools to venture into uncharted territories and use our ethical compass to navigate this complex terrain with confidence and integrity.”

Alina Luk, PharmD ’24, spoke about the challenges her class faced with transitioning from virtual to in-person classes while also transitioning into working health care professionals with adult responsibilities during clinical rotations.

“We were able to grow stronger with each other’s support and celebrate small victories every step of the way,” she said. “What I learned in pharmacy school went beyond the textbooks and classes. I learned the value of friendship and companionship, the importance of determination, and the power of perseverance.”

Faculty members and mentors recognized by students


  • Jaekyu Shin, PharmD, MS


  • Stephanie Hsia, PharmD, MA

2022-2023 (Experiential)

  • Candace Chan, PharmD
  • Nicola Cooper, PharmD
  • Eva Escobedo, PharmD
  • Nicole Heeney, PharmD
  • Deke Shelton, PharmD

Johnson delivers keynote

The keynote was delivered by Julie A. Johnson, PharmD, an internationally recognized scientist and leader in clinical pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, and genomic medicine who was recently appointed director of the Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Johnson speaks at podium

2024 commencement speaker Julie A. Johnson, PharmD

A member of the National Academy of Medicine who is currently serving as president of the Pharmacogenomics Global Research Network, Johnson spent over 25 years on the faculty at the University of Florida, where she was dean of the College of Pharmacy for nine years.

Johnson congratulated the Class of 2024 by offering sage advice. “Find your passion, and live that passion with compassion,” she said. “And if you do the two of those, to make a difference comes easily.”

She spoke about the many paths a pharmacist can take and said those opportunities are likely to expand dramatically in the next decade. “Don't be afraid to try different things,” Johnson said. “Allow yourself to dream and explore. Listen to your inner voice.”

Describing what she called a broken health care system, she said the chance to make a difference would be tremendous for the Class of 2024. She implored the graduates to seize those opportunities and be active participants in change.

“Remember that no matter what you do there are people at the other end of what you’re doing that deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity,” she said. “Treat them as you want to be treated.

“We need to make the world a more just, equitable place,” Johnson added. “Make the world a better place. We are counting on you.”

Ibrahim receives the Bowl of Hygeia Award

Bowl of Hygeia winner Rania Ibrahim, PharmD, center, flanked by the four other Bowl of Hygeia nominees.

Bowl of Hygeia 2024 recipient Rania Ibrahim, PharmD, center, flanked by the four other Bowl of Hygeia nominees.

Giacomini announced Rania Ibrahim, PharmD, as the 2024 recipient of the Bowl of Hygeia, the highest honor given to a graduating student. Cheers accompanied Ibrahim as she accepted the bowl from UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association President Lucy Saldaña, PharmD ’84.

In the words of her peers, “Dr. Ibrahim is a beacon of intelligence, thoughtfulness, and engagement” who is “passionate about learning for the sake of bettering the profession of pharmacy.”

The other four distinguished nominees—Aniqa Azad, PharmD; Linda Cheng, PharmD; Siavash Panahi, PharmD; and Ingrid Zhou, PharmD—also took the stage to receive plaques and acknowledgment from Giacomini and Saldaña.

Graduates assume the responsibility of health care provider

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, conferred the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree on the Class of 2024 graduates. Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, then read the names of each as they walked across the stage and turned their tassels.

Completing the program, Youmans led the students in a reaffirmation of the Oath of the Pharmacist—the same oath the students first read during their White Coat Celebration in 2021 as they began their commitment to the pharmacy profession.

“I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical, and legal conduct,” the students read in unison. “I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.”


School of 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.