Touro College of Pharmacy Graduates Third Class
Director of Communications
New York, N.Y. – Following musical interludes from Harlem’s Cotton Club All Stars band, and with friends and family members cheering them on, the eighty-six graduating students of the third class of the Touro College of Pharmacy received their PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) degrees last week at commencement ceremonies held at Columbia University.
The class of 2014 entered the College two years after its opening in Harlem - the first pharmacy school to launch in New York City in 68 years and the only pharmacy program in Manhattan. The school’s mission is to improve the public’s health by educating a diverse student body who will serve underrepresented communities and work to minimize health disparities.
Interim Dean Zvi Loewy, Ph.D. welcomed the audience of over 650 graduates and supporters. In his congratulatory remarks, Dean Loewy reminded the graduates of the many changes that have taken place in the pharmaceutical industry since they entered school four years ago.
“Since you entered the doors of the College of Pharmacy in the fall of 2010 more than a hundred new drugs have been approved. The big pharmaceutical companies have acquired the biotechnology companies that are proficient in the development and manufacturing of the new biological-based therapeutic products. There have also been many changes in vaccines, diagnostics and in the methods of delivery of drugs,” Dean Loewy said. “You, too, have changed, and I can promise you the change will continue. But remember, the Touro College of Pharmacy will always be there for you, as change continues, and you progress and develop in your careers.”
Touro College President and CEO Alan Kadish, M.D. continued with the theme of change, noting that that the dramatic changes underway in the health care delivery system will challenge the graduates as they strive to retain their core values and the sanctity of the health care provider-patient relationship.
“Each of us needs to remember and recognize that serving society and improving the health of individual patients is really what we’re all here for,” President Kadish said, adding that the changing environment will call for greater sensitivity, creativity and effort as compared with generations past. “Pharmacists, as an integral part of the heath care team, have the ability to take this increasingly complex formulary of drugs that we have and make sure that we deliver better care and improve people’s lives.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Lawrence J. DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., a professor at the School of Optometry and director of the University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center Structural Biology Shared Facility, inspired the audience with his personal story of having pursued his dream of becoming an astronaut after obtaining five degrees and becoming an amateur astronomer. After seven years of trying to become selected by NASA, he finally was successful and flew on the Columbia Space Shuttle in 1992. Two years later he served as chief scientist of the International Space Station at NASA headquarters.
Dr. DeLucas told the graduates that he always loved science and chemistry but he did not know what he wanted to do with his life and lacked confidence. He advised them to dream, but also to turn their thoughts into action. The three key attributes for success, he said, are optimism, passion and persistence.
To their future careers, he advised them, “Of all the learning that you will do when you leave Touro the best teachers will be those patients who come before you. Take time to listen to what they say. The genuine concern that you show will provide the important framework for your own intellectual growth and your patients’ well-being. Take the time to thoughtfully educate your patients and they will continue to educate and nurture you.”
The assembled graduates and well-wishers also heard inspirational remarks from Steven Elrod, 2014 degree candidate, who was among the several standout students receiving recognition and awards. Elrod received the United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award last year. He will begin his post graduate residency at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.