Ninety pharmacy students from the class of 2013 recited the Oath of a Pharmacist in front of their peers, professors, community and families last week at the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony.
The ceremony is a rite of passage for students entering their first year in the professional program to affirm their commitment to professionalism, respect, integrity and caring. The class of 2013 is the College’s third class of students.
In addition to UH-Hilo administrators, the students were addressed by Mayor Billy Kenoi, Rep. Jerry Chang, Hilo Medical Center Pharmacy Director Nelson Nako, Sen. Daniel Inouye’s Chief-of-Staff Pat DeLeon, and Papatya Tankut, pharmacy professional services vice president from CVS Caremark/Longs Drugs, who sponsored the ceremony.
“We continue to forge ahead and will follow the motto of Queen Kapiolani, which was ‘Kulia i ka nuu,’ meaning ‘Strive for the very top of the mountain,’” said Dean John M. Pezzuto. “That’s what we will continue to do and we’ll do it together. The future is ours to build together.”
Many of the first-year students said they were inspired by the ceremony and the speakers.
Veronica Cummings, from Guam, said it was fitting to hear their stories. “I liked hearing encouragement from the mayor, who pointed out there are going to be hard times but we just need to stick with it,” she said.
Joseph Roan, from San Jose, Calif., who hopes to work in nuclear pharmacy, said the ceremony reinforced the beginning of a journey. “It’s a long road ahead, but this signifies the start,” he said.
Josh Walker, from Ventura County, Calif., echoed that feeling when he said, “We started school a few weeks ago, but now it feels like a real start.”
Michael Taylor, who attended Waiakea High School, moved to California and returned to Hilo to attend pharmacy school, said, “It makes us feel like we’re part of something important to be going through a ceremony that only two other classes have at UH-Hilo.”
A sense of belonging is also what many of the faculty hope the ceremony achieves. Anita Ciarleglio, assistant professor in pharmacy practice, said it’s a big step for the students.
“It brings home to them that they are one of us, part of the ohana of pharmacists,” she said. “They really feel that closeness with the pomp and circumstances of today, you can see it in their faces.”