White Coat Ceremony held August 13 for Class of 2020

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Deborah Pope of Martinsburg, West Virginia, was in middle school, she knew she wanted to be a health care professional when she grew up. A friend suggested becoming a pharmacist, and the more Pope researched the profession, she discovered it was the right career for her.

Deborah Pope

Photo: Deborah Pope, WVU School of Pharmacy Class of 2020

Pope graduated from Marshall University in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in biology, and decided to pursue her studies into the profession of pharmacy at West Virginia University. She had participated in WVU’s Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) and Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) while in high school, so she knew about WVU and its course offerings.  

Now Pope’s ambition to be a clinical pharmacist is becoming a reality. She is one of 71 students who were welcomed into the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy Class of 2020 during the School’s White Coat Ceremony at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center.

“There are days you look forward to in life, and as someone who wants to enter a health profession, the White Coat Ceremony is something you look forward to,” Pope said. “It’s a big day where all my classmates will be wearing their white coats for the first time and you will be taking that first step into the profession of pharmacy. It’s the start of the study of your career.”

The presentation of white coats is symbolic as it signifies to the students that they are not only entering the study of the profession of pharmacy, but that they are also entering a commitment to be future healthcare professionals and will develop, deliver, and monitor medications in an effort to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of their patients. 

Elements of the ceremony included speeches by administration and alumni; signing of the WVU School of Pharmacy Honor Code; presentation and donning of white coats; and the recitation of the Pledge of Professionalism.

Mary K. Stamatakis, Pharm.D., interim dean for the WVU School of Pharmacy, began the program with welcoming the Class of 2020. Provost Joyce McConnell provided greetings from the university, and Betsy Elswick, Pharm.D., provided greetings from the WVU School of Pharmacy Alumni Association. Students were presented their white coats by School of Pharmacy faculty members Marina Galvez Peralta, Pharm.D., Ph.D., teaching assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Mary L. Euler, Pharm.D., associate dean for student services; Usha Sambamoorthi, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy; and Tara Whetsel, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy.

As the Class of 2020 adviser, Dr. Galvez Peralta led the students in the Pledge of Professionalism.

Deborah Pope

Photo: Deborah Pope, WVU School of Pharmacy Class of 2020

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