Busola Oladeru gets her coat put on by Dean Hirsch.
Busola Oladeru gets her coat put on by Dean Hirsch. Steve Zylius / UCI

In closing the admissions offer letter to UCI’s first Doctor of Pharmacy students, School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Founding Dean Jan Hirsch wrote the Latin phrase Audentes Fortuna Iuvat. Fortune favors the bold.

Forty-one bold students – UCI’s Pharm.D. Class of 2025 – started their journey into the pharmacy profession at Friday’s inaugural White Coat Ceremony held at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

“I commend you for choosing to be part of history,” said Hirsch in her opening remarks of Friday’s event. “Your commitment, collaboration and leadership will set the foundation for this academic program. In becoming a pharmacist, you will have an opportunity to make a monumental impact on your community, regardless of where you choose to practice.”

  • The inaugural class of Pharm.D. students takes the oath of a pharmacist during the ceremony at the Irvine Barclay Theater
    The inaugural class of Pharm.D. students takes the oath of a pharmacist during the ceremony at the Irvine Barclay Theater Steve Zylius / UCI

The School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences was founded in 2020, but it already has a strong foundation in pharmaceutical sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Master of Science in Pharmacology and Ph.D. in Pharmacological Sciences. Now that the Pharm.D. program has turned from a dream into reality, the school spans a continuum from discovery, development, and delivery of new drugs, devices and diagnostics all the way to optimizing medication therapy in patients and patient populations. The goal is to produce practice-ready pharmacists to be medication experts on healthcare teams and problem-solvers to lead progressive change in the healthcare system.

In addressing the new Pharm.D. students on Friday, Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor of health affairs, shared how the program’s inclusion in the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences will provide unique collaboration for patient care.

“Your transformation into highly trained experts in providing individualized, patient-centered pharmaceutical care will prepare you to focus on what we do that is good and what can be improved for patients and communities,” Goldstein said. “As students in a first-of-its-kind health sciences college you will be brought together with students in medicine, nursing, and population and public health, because we believe an optimized healthcare delivery system is team based and integrative.”

Friday’s White Coat Ceremony also featured virtual keynote address by Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General Richardae Araojo, who is associate commissioner for minority health and director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Before congratulating the Pharm.D. students on the historical day, Araojo applauded UCI for its efforts in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge UC Irvine’s pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists for your dedication and contributions that you have made toward addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “UC Irvine has been on the front lines involved in the process every step of the way, from vaccine education, working with public health officials to conduct testing, distributing and administering the vaccine, and UC Irvine’s research on COVID-19 and treatments for SARS-CoV-2 infections. For all of your selfless efforts and hard work for your community, I say ‘Thank you.’”

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Hal Stern took time during his speech to reiterate the impact that a pharmacist can have on the local community.

“As we set out to convince people and explain to people the benefits of the vaccine, and on this very campus, rolled out a vaccine clinic,” he said, “the pharmacy community played an enormous role in keeping our community safe.”

As the final speaker of the White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Allen Chao – long-time UCI supporter and the founder, chairman and former CEO of Watson Pharmaceuticals and Tanvex BioPharma – discussed the wide range of practice settings available within the pharmacy field and added a heartfelt message to conclude his remarks.

“Love what you do and listen to your heart,” he said. “Congratulations! You make your own path based on your knowledge. Go where your heart is. Good luck and have fun!”

In the moments most anticipated by the students’ family and friends, Megan Nguyen, the associate dean of pharmacy student affairs,  introduced the PharmD class in the presentation of the white coats. After each student received their white coat, they proceeded across stage to collect a commemorative pin from the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences associate deans.

Through the Anteaters in Pharmacy alumni chapter, donors helped support the purchase of the white coats and earned the opportunity to add a special quote inside the collar of each coat. In seeing the inspirational words every day, the Pharm.D. students will be reminded that they are supported by an alumni network from the beginning of their journey at UCI.

To wrap up the White Coat Ceremony, Hirsch led the students through the Oath of a Pharmacist and a spirited chant of Zot! Zot! Zot! She also asked the Pharm.D. class to turn and applaud their families, a special moment to recognize the support systems that have helped the students enter the challenging and rewarding career of pharmacy.

“To the many family and friends who have joined us today, either in-person or through the live stream, your continued support and encouragement will be critical to these students as they pursue the PharmD degree,” Hirsch said. “I am very grateful for the chance to meet many of you today and I want to personally welcome you to the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences family.”

If you want to learn more about supporting the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at UCI, please visit the Brilliant Future website. Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/school-of-pharmacy-and-pharmaceutical-sciences.