“You are resilient,” Class of ’22 is told at first Hooding and Diploma Ceremony since 2019
By Greg Weatherford
VCU School of Pharmacy
An air of celebration and excitement accompanied the School of Pharmacy’s 2022 Hooding and Diploma Ceremony — even more than usual for an event like this. As several speakers noted, and as all recognized, this was the first such celebration to be held in person by the school since 2019.
Watch a full broadcast of the event (YouTube link)
View an event photo gallery (Flickr link)
Headed by Dean Joseph DiPiro, Pharm.D., in his final graduation as the school’s dean, a full house of friends, family, faculty and more gathered at the Dominion Energy Center in downtown Richmond to celebrate the Class of 2022.
“You are resilient; you are survivors,” keynote speaker Shantelle L. Brown, Pharm.D., told the assembled Pharm.D., Ph.D. and master’s candidates. “The world is a different place than it was four years ago.”
Brown, of Hope Pharmacy in Richmond, urged the audience to maintain balance in their lives between work and family and service. “You are entitled to be happy,” Brown said.
Among other honors, Associate Dean Kelechi “K.C.” Ogbonna, Pharm.D., announced the school’s teacher of the year — Philip M. Gerk, Ph.D., of the school’s Deparment of Pharmaceutics. Other finalists for the honor were Krista Donohoe, Pharm.D.; Julie Patterson, Pharm.D.; and Ben Van Tassell, Pharm.D.
In his brief remarks Gerk shared what he called four vital insights with the audience: Keep overcoming; whatever you do, do it through love; always pursue the truth no matter where it leads; and fourth and finally — to knowing laughter from students and faculty — ”Wherever you go, always try to remember everything you learned about pharmacokinetics.”
In an unannounced visit from Art Kellermann, M.D., Ph.D., the VCU and VCU Health System senior vice president for health sciences praised Dean DiPiro’s accomplishments over eight years as dean of the pharmacy school. Kellermann emphasized that DiPiro was stepping aside from the dean’s chair after eight years — but not from VCU. DiPiro will continue as associate vice president for faculty affairs.
“Joe DiPiro is not leaving,” Kellermann said. “He is moving one block!”
Then, called by name one by one from AlHashimi to Zhang, the candidates crossed the stage to receive hoods and diplomas.
As the 2022 class president Anhmy-Eliane Nguyen said at the close of the ceremony: “Congratulations to us all. We did it!”