On May 18, 2018, West Coast University School of Pharmacy celebrated the hooding ceremony of its inaugural class. The hooding of doctoral candidates prior to commencement is an honored and special tradition where graduates formally receive the academic hood representing the achievement of the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The hood also serves to remind students of the high standards of performance and behavior to which each aspires and with which, each is challenged as they enter practice. Dr. Kyle Sousa, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs welcomed each of the graduates along with over three hundred family and friends as they gathered in Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City for the event.
Dr. Jeb Egbert, Co-President and Chief Learning Officer, delivered the keynote address at this year's hooding ceremony. Dr. Egbert congratulated West Coast University's inaugural class as the first cohort of pharmacists to graduate from the School. In his remarks, Dr. Egbert referenced a Pharmacy Times article written by pharmacist Jason Poquette discussing the attributes of top performers. Dr. Egbert challenged each of the graduates to "not just be pharmacists, but the leaders that the profession is looking for." Following the keynote address of Dr. Egbert, Dean Reza Taheri, awarded an honorary Doctor of Pharmacy Degree to West Coast University Board of Trustee member Mark Hacken. Dr. Hacken shared lessons from his decades of experience as a pharmacist and successful pharmacy business owner and emphasized the importance of ethics to each of the graduates. Dr. Hacken continued his remarks by stating, "the key to being a great pharmacist is not only your book knowledge but the professionalism, commitment, compassion, empathy, respect, kindness and dedication to the highest standards of ethics and excellence with every prescription that you fill." Dr. Hacken went on to remind the graduates that their patients "are people with names and feelings just like you, like me, and everyone else in the room here today." He concluded his remarks by reminding the Class of 2018 that this approach and perspective "will help you build a reputation and have a powerful impact on your patients' health and lives."
Following the keynote address and awarding of the honorary doctorate degree, graduates were hooded by Dr. Keri Hurley-Kim, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy practice and Dr. Mark Sherman, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. Amber Verdell, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, then led the new cohort of pharmacists in reciting the Oath of a Pharmacist. Three members of the Class of 2018 were recognized with special honors for graduating with GPAs above a 3.75 - Dr. Anna Babakhanyan and Dr. Aikoui Ohanyan both ranked in the top 4-10% of their class while Dr. Rose Bagheri received the highest honors, graduating in the top 3% of the class with a GPA of 4.00.
The ceremony concluded with a few closing words from Dr. Kyle Sousa as he congratulated the Class of 2018 for their hard work and dedication. Dr. Sousa charged each of the graduates to continue to discover new opportunities, forge their own path, and push the profession to its vanguard to showcase its true potential.