College of Pharmacy Holds White Coat Ceremony

The College of Pharmacy Class of 2025 received a warm welcome to NEOMED at the White Coat Ceremony Friday, Aug. 20. The incoming students were joined by friends and family, as well as faculty and staff, in the NEW Center Ballroom to receive their white coats ― an annual rite of passage marking the journey to become a pharmacist. 

Richard Kasmer, Pharm.D., J.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy, expressed the significance of the annual tradition while welcoming the students. 

“We perform these rituals to reflect on what has taken place in the past and what our future will be. Donning the white coat for the first time is a tangible symbol of the extraordinary journey you’ve embarked upon, and I suspect you will carry the image with you forever.” 

Keynote speaker Lakesha Butler, Pharm.D. (shown in photo), a clinical professor of pharmacy practice and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) School of Pharmacy,  encouraged the future pharmacists to commit to lifelong learning. 

“Even as you become more self-aware and discover attributes about yourself, staying the same should not be an option. When we know better, we do better,” Dr. Butler said.

Each member of the Class of 2025 crossed the stage individually to have a fresh white coat placed on them by second-year pharmacy students. Smiles, cheers and camera flashes filled the room as the future pharmacists  proudly donned their coats with the NEOMED patch for the first time. 

Vernique Callwood-Caswell, Pharm.D., (’11), who was part of NEOMED’s first College of Pharmacy class, shared her experiences as both a student and professional. Dr. Callwood-Caswell addressed the students via a video from her home in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

The ceremony wrapped up as Dr. Kasmer presented the 2021 Pharmacy Dean’s Leadership Award to Dr. Magdi Awad, Pharm.D., R.Ph., M.S.A., for his “continued, substantial and generous support of our college and its initiatives.” 

As the crowd dispersed, the students headed outside to take photos with their loved ones and new classmates alike, creating memories that will last long after they depart NEOMED as pharmacists destined to be transformational leaders.  

Photo: Keynote speaker Lakesha Butler, Pharm.D.

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