Officers for the Class of 2013 include from left: Anne Nguyen, secretary/treasurer; Jobby John, president; and Pearl Rajan, vice president.
Good morning and welcome dedicated faculty and staff, honored guests, proud families, my fellow TRAILBLAZERS, and the large number of student loan officers hiding in the crowd waiting to collect…... It is truly an honor to stand here today.
After countless hours in the classroom and practice sites, close to a million test questions, thousands of cups of coffee, and a few hundred beers and shots on Sixth Street we have finally made it to this day. Today is the day we have been looking forward to for the last four years. Today's the day we trade in our short white coats for doctoral hoods and gain the right of passage into our beloved profession of pharmacy.
But we couldn't have made it to this point without the support of our loved ones. On behalf of the class of 2013, I would like to thank all of you (family, and friends) who have supported us on our journey. Thank you for your love, faith and continued encouragement. Without you, the last four years would have gone from challenging to impossible. Everything we have achieved, and everything we have accomplished we owe to you and your prayers. You have played an extraordinary role in moving our futures forward by supporting us personally, emotionally and financially. You have made tremendous sacrifices to make our lives easier and for that we are eternally grateful. Thank you!
On August 24, 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting my outstanding classmates for the first time during new student orientation (NSO). During orientation, various professors addressed our class and said, "Y'all are a special class. You will be the first class to go through a brand new curriculum …. one that will better prepare you to face the challenges of the real world. You guys are not by any means "guinea pigs" but "trailblazers" – What was really going through there heads at that time was- "These poor kids have NO IDEA what they are in for… and unfortunately neither do we…we'll just have to wait and see how this pans out!" So what you're witnessing here today is more than just a graduation, it's actually the culmination of a four-year experiment, which thankfully has ended successfully.
If there is one thing that I learned how to do really well in pharmacy school – it is to REFLECT on my experiences. So, I'd like to briefly reflect on our time here over the last four years.
Thoughts during the first year of pharmacy school: actually we'd all probably like to go ahead and forget this year ever happened. Wow, I thought I studied a lot for my prerequisite classes, but this was on a whole new level. This was the year most of us fell off the face of the planet…. Our friends and family were constantly complaining of not hearing from us, and seeing enough of us…some of them even went to the extremes of calling us "lame"…. One of the few good memories I have from this year are the UT football games we used to attend together and the Longhorns going to the national championship. That was fun! I still wish Colt had not gotten hurt; we probably would have been crowned national champions.
During the second year we actually got to learn about drugs! Most of us started to feel more comfortable talking to our friends and family about their medications because at this point, we had learned their names…not just brand names, but generics too! Unless they're outside the Top 200 Medications List, then forget about it…you had to wait another year for more information.
P3 year was slightly difficult not because we had more pharmacotherapy labs, more classes, journal clubs or presentations to do, but because our Austin campus had literally shrunk to half its original size. Don't worry parents – It wasn't because they all failed. Students designated to El Paso, Pan-Am and San Antonio went to their respective regions at the end of the second year, and continued their remaining didactic courses there. But you know what though? The bonds we had formed in our first two years were so strong, that we were still an integral part of each other's lives despite geographic barriers. We still managed to keep in touch via Facebook and managed to visit each other when time permitted. It's a true testament to the friendships we have forged here, which I hope will continue to stay strong even after graduation.
During the fourth year, there was a special sense of pride associated with calling yourself a "P4" that is hard to explain. You're on top of the world! No more classes! We finally get to work! …. For free!!!.... Actually we got to pay to work! The businessman in me actually sat down one day and calculated this out – each of us actually paid $11.50 per hour to work during rotations… But it was well worth it! While we were on rotations, time flew by fast; we could barely keep up with projects, case presentations, and journal clubs. Having been someone who thought he knew it all, I quickly got used to saying - "Sorry preceptor, I don't know the answer to that question, but I can look it up and get back to you." I have lost count of the times that I used this phrase – It's every P4's best friend and saving grace! For all you pharmacy students in the crowd… write this down and then as Dr.Burgess would say - asterisk, highlight and star it because you'll need it. During this last year, I learned that we won't always know all the answers, but with our training, we'll know where to find them.
Class of 2013, our professors were right…we really are trailblazers in a lot of aspects. We set so many things in motion at this University that we'll be remembered for, but the one that I am most proud of is the leadership that our class was able to provide to the college amidst the challenges of the new curriculum. Our senior class paved the way for the growth of our community outreach program "Project Collaborate" where we did free health screenings for the less fortunate and indigent populations of Texas…and I say Texas because this was truly a statewide effort, thanks to the support from our satellite campuses in El Paso, Pan-Am and San Antonio.
We also took interdisciplinary learning to a new level. By working with social work and nursing students in Project Collaborate, we brought together three distinct, high caliber healthcare programs, provided care to the underserved population in Texas, all while learning more about each other's professions in the process. I believe we started something on campus that will help future UT graduates, something that will spark a much-needed change in our current healthcare system…. Our accomplishments exemplify what our university believes in - "what starts here changes the world".
All this being said…. Would I go through pharmacy school again? I think the answer is quite obvious- ABSOLUTELY NOT. The very thought of having to write another live text essay or sit down for another pharmacotherapy exam makes me anxious, but allow me to explain. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm glad I did it once. You see the experiences that I have had on the Forty Acres, the way that I have grown as a person, and the human connections that I have had the honor to make with my patients, my colleagues and my mentors –These things I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
I'll miss Arlyn's infinite words of wisdom, Dr. Comb's mysterious puns, Dr. Croyle's fun fact Fridays, Dean Ginsburg's mad rapping skills, Dean Davis' liver games, Dr. Richburg's infatuation with family guy, Dr. Shepherd's scary FBI stories, Prof. Rush's love for community service, and Dr. Stavchansky's rather insightful deep views on life.
College of pharmacy professors, you will always be our role models, the people that we respect and owe our gratitude to. We could not have asked for a more committed and esteemed group of individuals in charge of giving us direction over the last four years. Thank you!!
So my friends, today is the time not only to reflect on the past, but also to prepare for the future. As we trade in our short white coats for doctoral hoods, we start the next chapter of this exciting journey. A huge responsibility has now been entrusted up on us.
THE FUTURE IS NOW – We are a new breed of pharmacists who have been trained differently from our predecessors, graduating from one of the best universities in the world. So, it's up to us to practice at the top of our license and be role models for others who will follow us. I encourage y'all to push yourselves for your patients and your profession. Be active in professional organizations and be advocates of pharmacy. Seize the opportunities that come your way and most importantly work with your fellow health care professionals to deliver nothing short of "AWESOME" health care to your patients. That's my message to you, my friends, - Be the best that you can and always act in the best interest of your patients.
My classmates, the great University of Texas made us colleagues but we made ourselves friends. Our accomplishments and experiences will be stories someday, our pictures will become old photographs and all of us will become somebody's mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. This is real. We made it. We are graduating!
It's my absolute privilege to represent y'all and call you classmates, colleagues, and friends! God bless each and every one of you and God bless the University of Texas. Congratulations Class of 2013. Hook 'em Horns!