Physicians Hall Front

MCW School of Pharmacy Graduates First Class

Pharmacy Class of 2020_Article

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) School of Pharmacy’s Inaugural Class of 2020 graduated with their Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees and are stepping forward to serve the community in a variety of different practice areas in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although unable to hold traditional in-person gatherings, MCW hosted multiple virtual ceremonies to honor the 41 PharmD graduates.

The MCW School of Pharmacy held small group hooding ceremonies online during the afternoon of Thursday, May 21, 2020. The Founding Dean of the MCW School of Pharmacy, George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, shared remarks with students before they hooded themselves, or were hooded by an individual whom they live with, and then recited the Oath of a Pharmacist.

“The MCW School of Pharmacy has grown since its inception in 2017. I am proud to see the hard work and dedication of all of the faculty and staff come to fruition with the commencement of our first graduates. The members of the Inaugural Class of 2020 have already accomplished much as the pioneering class of our innovative program. Their unique experiences will allow them to be successful in their future careers, which span across a multitude of different areas of pharmacy,” says Dr. MacKinnon.

On the night of May 21, 2020, the MCW School of Pharmacy held a virtual Celebration of the Inaugural Class event. MCW leadership and faculty delivered speeches with the Inaugural Class and their family and friends. John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO of MCW, shared his gratitude to the Inaugural Class for choosing the MCW School of Pharmacy and helping to advance pharmacy education. “You are our hope for a bright and promising future in the profession of pharmacy and I am deeply grateful to you and very proud of your accomplishments,” he says.

Dr. MacKinnon reminded the graduates of the unique route they have taken as the first to experience the MCW School of Pharmacy’s innovative curriculum. “The path you have taken had not been journeyed upon by others,” he says. “You accomplished what less than ten percent of all pharmacy graduates will have done this year, or in the world: completing your PharmD degree in three years as opposed to four years. You completed more Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience hours than any other PharmD program in the country. You were concurrently enrolled in a two-year course called Scholarly Pathways with medical students that is not replicated in any other medical school or pharmacy school in the United States, and for that matter, the world.”

Two students speakers, Gary Karagodsky, PharmD, the Founding President of the MCW Pharmacy Student Alliance, and Heather Dalton, PharmD, Representative of the MCW Commencement & Alumni Board, shared reflections on their experiences.

Each PharmD graduate was individually recognized and awards and honors were presented. A video compilation of memories was shared, starting from the Orientation Week for the Class of 2020 and covering the three years of their education up until graduation. “To be part of the inaugural class was a great experience. It’s rare to be part of the beginning of something so big. I am proud of the foundation that my class was able to set here and I am excited to see the program grow and succeed in the future,” says Dr. Karagodsky, who will be starting a Post-Graduate Year One (PGY1) Residency with a focus in Ambulatory Care at Marshfield Health System in Marshfield, WI.

On Friday, May 22, 2020, MCW held a Commencement Ceremony for all graduates, including the MCW School of Pharmacy graduates receiving their PharmD. “Commencement is such an amazing recognition of all the hard work we have done as students at MCW. I am very thankful for the technology that allows us to celebrate virtually,” says Dr. Dalton, who will be pursuing a PGY1/Post-Graduate Year Two (PGY2) Health System Pharmacy and Leadership Residency at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, NC.

The MCW School of Pharmacy Inaugural Class are trailblazers who have paved the way for the classes that follow them. “Being part of the inaugural class is definitely an honor and something that has prepared me to step up to be a leader and a pharmacist of the future,” says Alexander Thorp, PharmD, who will be the first Post-Graduate Year One resident at the University of Illinois – Chicago, Rockford campus. The Inaugural Class were the first to experience and help pioneer the MCW School of Pharmacy’s innovative, accelerated curriculum.

“I feel like these relationships I have made at my time at MCW will last for a lifetime,” says Arslan Aslam, who is beginning a PGY1/PGY2 Health-system Pharmacy Administration and Leadership Residency at Advocate Lutheran Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. “I know the Class of 2020 will represent MCW well as we enter this next phase and become pharmacists of the future,” says Dr. Aslam.

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