Touro College of Pharmacy Class of 2019 Celebrate White Coat Ceremony

Students mark the official commencement of their pharmacy journeys at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem, New York on October 8, 2015.

October 12, 2015

Just several weeks after registering for classes, orienting themselves to campus and settling into classes, the one hundred newest members of the Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP) found themselves standing on line in front of family, friends, and faculty as they waited to be robed into the white coats they had draped across their arms.

Jenna Ferdinand-Makonnen was nervous—and excited. “Yes, we’ve started classes, but now that we’re getting our white coats…It makes me feel like I’m actually getting into this, you know?” The Caribbean native, who plans on returning to St. Lucia after she earns her degree, says pharmacy has always been her passion. “Medication adherence and compliance has always been a big obstacle to health for people in my city, but the person amongst the healthcare team who can regulate this the best is the pharmacist,” she says—and she plans on doing her best to improve the situation when she returns there to work as a pharmacist.

After the PharmD candidates recited the Pledge of Professionalism, they listened attentively as Dr. Haregewein Assefa, Associate Professor of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, urged the new students to take an active role in their learning—in classes as well as while on rotations.

Rachel Jakubov, fourth from right, was inspired to pursue pharmacy after

Rachel Jakubov, fourth from right, was inspired to pursue pharmacy after "having witnessed the effects of medication to ameliorate the health of someone very close" to her.

“This field is too rich to learn only from the slides that we post on the blackboard,” she said in her message. “Show up. Ask questions. Participate in the discussions. And challenge us. This will deepen your understanding and determine how well you do in the exams and beyond, and will get you on a path to lifelong learning.”

Faculty and staff members alike welcomed the newest class to TCOP. After Associate Dean Michael Escott’s opening remarks, Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, Executive Vice President of Touro College University System, delivered an invocation address. During the official robing segment, Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah read each candidate’s name aloud while Dr. Evangelina Berrios-Colon, Dr. Maureen Sullivan, and Dr. John Fisher formally cloaked the members of the Class of 2019.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Keith Veltri, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, echoed Dr. Assefa’s sentiments while imparting a charge of responsibility to the students.

“Not long ago,” he described, “a pharmacist’s main role was that of a ‘drug dispenser.’ Today, the term ‘clinical pharmacist’ is a reality. With this title brings increasing responsibility and a broader scope of practice,” he began.

“I challenge all of you to strive for maximum success and to understand that each one of you hold a personal responsibility to expand the pharmacist’s position as influential health care providers,” he continued.

For Pharm.D candidate Rachel Jakubov, Dr. Veltri’s words were all the motivation she needed to hear at the start of her pharmacy journey. “The white coat ceremony reminded me of what’s yet to come after a four-year journey,” she said.

Read about last year’s White Coat Ceremony and check out this year’s photos below and on Instagram.