On Thursday, May 2, the Washington State University (WSU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) celebrated the accomplishments of five Ph.D. of pharmaceutical sciences, one master of pharmaceutical sciences and 146 Doctor of Pharmacy graduates at its 2019 Commencement Ceremony. Family, faculty and friends gathered at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane to honor the new alumni of the college. Among those new alumni are the inaugural Yakima class.

WSU and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) joined forces to offer the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy degree program in Yakima beginning in August 2015. This collaboration has allowed WSU student pharmacists and students of osteopathic medicine at Yakima-based PNWU to learn to care for patients as a health care team.

The Yakima students who graduated in Thursday’s ceremony were those same students who began the program in 2015, the first class to graduate from the Yakima extension. In recognition of the occasion, they were gifted crimson stoles to wear during the commencement ceremony.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more committed, engaged, and willing cohort,” said Angela Stewart, associate dean of the Yakima Extension of the Doctor of Pharmacy Program. “Through their leadership, hard work, and persistence they have laid a foundation for student success that subsequent classes are able to build on to achieve even greater things… They will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am very proud to have them as my ‘pharmily,’”

Merrie Kay Alzola, keynote

The college’s pharmacy family also includes commencement keynote speaker and college alumna, Merrie Kay Alzola. Since her own graduation in 1993, Alzola has shown a dedication to the college’s mission to lead in advancing, promoting and protecting human health. Currently, she is a senior regional account executive at Novo Nordisk Inc. working to ensure patients have access to medication options to improve their quality of life. In her keynote address Alzola encouraged graduates not to let others define them and to be accepting of change.

“Find out where you fit… The world needs all of us,” said keynote Merrie Kay Alzola to the CPPS 2019 graduates.

During her address, Alzola reflected on her own time at WSU and encouraged graduates to look back fondly on their time at the college, “WSU has given you the foundation for an amazing career and a wonderful life,” she said. “Think about what you have learned, think of the friends you have made, the obstacles that you have overcome, the fun you have had, and know that these experiences have helped prepare you for what lies ahead.”

Student speakers at the ceremony were Ph.D. graduate Sabrina Fechtner, and pharmacy graduates Zohal Sarawary (Yakima) and Boris Zhang (Spokane).

After the ceremony graduates, family and friends gathered back on campus for a celebratory reception with the WSU mascot, Butch T. Cougar.

2019 Doctor of Pharmacy student awardees

Senior awards were presented at a special luncheon the day prior to commencement.

Mark Nguyen and Meredith Matsen: APhA-ASP Senior Recognition
For the greatest contribution to advancing the pharmacy profession through outstanding service to the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists.

Boris Zhang and Emily Wentzke: College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty Award
For outstanding grades, membership and participation in pharmacy organizations, and work characteristics as evidenced in the laboratory, classes and internships.

Tory Knebel: Facts and Comparisons Excellence in Clinical Communication
For being in the top 25 percent of the class and demonstrating superior verbal and written clinical communication skills.

Riley Sherman and Joey Redmon: Merck Award for Outstanding Students
The top academically ranked students in the class.

Ryan Leman: Mylan Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Pharmacy
For being in the top 25 percent of the class and demonstrating high professional motivation, superior proficiency in the provision of drug information and the intent to enter practice upon graduation.

Joey Redmon: Larry G. Bettesworth Pharmacy Student Award
This award, in honor of Larry G. Bettesworth, is given to an outstanding WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student pursuing training in a health-system residency program. The award was presented by Sean Dobbin, regional director of pharmacy at Providence Health Care.

Three graduating veterans, Amanda Lynn Cutler, Christopher Drew Garton, and Taylor Nishimura Goodman, were also recognized at the awards ceremony where they were presented cords to wear at the commencement ceremony and a coin to signify their service.