CPPS returns to in-person graduation celebrations for 2022

Admiral-retired and president of AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Scott Giberson gives keynote speech at 2022 College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences commencement ceremony.

On Thursday, May 5, the Washington State University (WSU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) celebrated the accomplishments of nine doctor of philosophy (PhD), and 160 doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) graduates at its 2022 commencement ceremony. Family, faculty and friends gathered at the The Fox in downtown Spokane to honor the graduates.

Throughout the pandemic PhD students remained on campus and in the labs while doctor of pharmacy students transitioned to distance learning during the spring 2020 semester as well as in the 2020-21 academic year. Since doctor of pharmacy students spend their fourth year on Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations, this was the first time many had seen each other since March 2020.

Admiral-retired Scott Giberson gave the keynote address and shared how he believes that the past two decades of challenging events has prepared 2022 graduates to make a true difference in health care.

“The overwhelming health impacts across the last two decades have seeded the unique opportunity for you to embrace. Do not underestimate the pulpit you have been given as a health care professional to catalyze change,” said Giberson.

Giberson was formerly the Assistant US Surgeon General and two-star admiral with the US Public Health Service. He also served as the acting Deputy Surgeon General of the United States in 2013 and 2014. Admiral Giberson retired from active duty to become president of AMI Expeditionary Healthcare.

Student speakers at the ceremony were PhD in pharmaceutical sciences and molecular medicine graduate Tarana Arman, and pharmacy graduates Christa Laosantos (Spokane) and Trevor Schultz (Yakima).

2022 doctor of pharmacy student awardees

Graduating doctor of pharmacy student awards were presented at a special celebration the day prior to commencement. In addition, Naomi Bender, director of Native American Health Sciences, presented honoring blankets to graduating Native American students. In Indigenous traditions and histories, the blanket ceremony recognizes and celebrates the achievements and other accomplishments of individuals.

Misty Lefler, who was unable to attend the awards ceremony in person, was also recognized.

One graduating veteran was also recognized during the celebration. Colton Sorensen was on active-duty military service while pursuing his doctor of pharmacy degree. In his third year of pharmacy school, he was asked to deploy to Georgia. During his eight-year service in the US Marine Corps he was stationed abroad in Lithuania, Georgia, Afghanistan, and Qatar.

Larry B. Bettesworth Health Systems Pharmacy Student Award
Presented by Sean Dobbin, pharmacy executive director for Providence in Montana and Washington, the award was established to honor Larry Bettesworth, and his legacy as an outstanding pharmacist leader, teacher and mentor of many. The award recognizes students who are pursing continued professional training in a health-system pharmacy residency program and that have demonstrated significant contributions in health-system pharmacy, pharmacy professional associations and have actively engage in student leadership/volunteer opportunities.

Excellence in Scholarship Award
For a second through fourth-year student pharmacist in good academic and professional standing and demonstrates outstanding achievement in scholarship.

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty Award
For a student from each campus who are voted by faculty who exhibit outstanding grades, membership and participation in professional organizations, and strong work characteristics in the classroom and community.

Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information: Facts and Comparisons Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication
For being in the top 25 percent of the class and demonstrating superior verbal and written clinical communication skills.

VIATRIS™ Excellence in Pharmacy Award
For being in the top 25 percent of the class, demonstrating high personal motivation, possessing a unique ability to communicate drug information, and the intent to enter practice upon graduation.

US Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award
For pharmacy students that make significant contributions to public health. Faculty nominate students for this award in November each year.

Merck Award for Academic Excellence
For the students with the highest academic achievement in the class.