Each Doctor of Pharmacy student at the Washington State University begins their journey with the donning of their white coats. This simple coat is symbolic. It represents professionalism, caring and trust that each future pharmacist must earn from their patients.
Returning to an in-person ceremony after the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the move to a virtual ceremony last year, this year this symbol holds particular weight. For the first time, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences White Coat Ceremonies combined two classes, not only welcoming the incoming class of 2025, but celebrating the progression of the class of 2024 into their second year. The Yakima ceremony took place Thursday, August 19 followed by the Spokane ceremony on August 20. The ceremonies were made possible with the support of Nick Bruck, class of 2004, who coated the students and Walgreens for sponsoring the white coat ceremonies and for donating the white coats that will be worn by our student pharmacists during their pharmacy education.
As the college celebrated the donning of the white coats by its first- and second-year students, the importance of pharmacists in the communities they serve has never been clearer. Over the past year pharmacy students across the country have stepped onto the frontlines, testing and vaccinating in the communities they serve. Soon the 90 new pharmacy students joining the class of 2025 will have the chance to join these ranks.
These student pharmacists are taking their first steps on the well-tread path of the generations that came before, including the keynote speaker for the ceremony, Division Pharmacy Manager for Albertsons Safeway Corporation Dr. Shandra Calmes, class of 2005, who donned her own white coat from the college in a similar ceremony twenty years prior.
In her speech Calmes recognized the many changes that the college and profession have undergone since her own white coat ceremony. The college, then located on the WSU Pullman campus, has grown and expanded moving to the Spokane campus with an extension in Yakima. Meanwhile the profession has similarly grown and expanded as the role of the pharmacist has changed. Where once the idea of immunizing pharmacists seemed impossible, now pharmacists across the country are administering COVID-19 vaccinations on a daily basis. Calmes challenged students to push back against barriers to accomplish that which others say is impossible.
“I challenge you to spend the next four years dreaming bigger each year, understanding that each success leads to new challenges, each failure brings new understandings to build upon and the only thing that will ever limit your possibilities is throwing in the towel,” said Calmes. “For those with the courage and resilience to continue, the impossible is merely an achievement waiting for you to unlock, before moving on to the next challenge.”
Welcome, class of 2025!
Thank you to all of the students who submitted information and photos for these profiles, featured on the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Instagram.