On May 30, 2019, Touro College of Pharmacy in Harlem awarded 82 graduates their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees during festive ceremonies packed with family, friends and other well-wishers at the Roone Arledge Auditorium-Alfred Lerner Hall at Columbia University.

Following an inspirational invocation from Touro College and University System Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, TCOP Dean Henry Cohen, PharmD, enthusiastically welcomed the graduates and thanked them for “making the College of Pharmacy the very special place it has become…Always remember your highest obligation is to use your gifts and the education and training you have received to live out the mission of the school and your responsibilities as a healer and patient advocate: to make life better for others.”

TCUS Provost for the Graduate and Professional Divisions Patricia E. Salkin, J.D., added her warm congratulations. “You are dedicated and compassionate individuals who are going to [be] serving the underserved and making a difference in the lives of people in our community, whether you work in a hospital, retail or research setting.”

Keynote speaker Henri Manasse Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., FFIP, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science. Currently dean and professor emeritus of the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy, Manasse formerly served as executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the national organization representing pharmacists who work in acute and ambulatory care settings.

Manasse urged the graduates to “embrace the biological and genetic revolution” taking place in the understanding and treatment of disease and drug action, safety and effectiveness. “We will likely get to a point where an individual’s genetic map will dictate the drug to be used and the dose…There will be ethical [and] financial challenges regarding access, affordability and sustainability,” he said, adding it will be important for the graduates to “work towards greater autonomy of scientific and professional decision-making” and be accountable for their work.

“Practice at the level of your education and training, not only to the level of your license. Creatively use the tension at the interface of law and practice as a catalyst for change. Society needs you to do this,” urged Manasse.

In addressing their classmates, two graduates of the Class of 2019, Athena Moustakas and Megan Loper, echoed the theme of advocating for patients and making a difference. “A career in pharmacy challenges you to use your intellect in combination with your humanity to do meaningful work that feeds your soul,” said Moustakas. “Be change makers and leaders. With our degree we have been entrusted a great power to help patients and with great power comes great responsibility.”

The Class of 2019 will be spreading out across the country in pursuit of a variety of careers, including retail or hospital pharmacies, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, public health organizations and government agencies. Students have also accepted prestigious postgraduate residencies or fellowships at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Somerville, N.J.; in Brooklyn at The Brooklyn hospital Center, New York Harbor Healthcare System and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center; in the Bronx at SBH Health System and Bronx Health Care System; at Long Island University; at MCPHS/Pfizer in Groton, Conn.; and at Celgene Corporation in Summit, N.J.

“I’m very excited,” said Sana Shafi at the close of the event. Shafi will be working at a CVS pharmacy in Stamford, Conn. “It was definitely a tough journey but it was worthwhile. I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life where I can give back to the community.”