Commencement 1000x698px 05 12 18

17th Annual Commencement Ceremony Marks Largest Event in KGI History

Photo Gallery

Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) capped a stellar 2017-2018 academic year with its 17th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12 at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center, featuring 240 graduates and more than 1,400 attendees.

In addition to celebrating graduates across six different degree programs from the Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences, KGI graduated its first class from the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, which enrolled its first cohort for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program in 2014.

With the classic “Pomp and Circumstance” played overhead, KGI students proudly entered the venue amid cheers and applause from family and friends. In addition to the students and their guests, KGI faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees were in attendance.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bob Curry began the ceremony with a welcome address before introducing Father Joe Fenton from The Claremont Colleges’ Office of the Chaplains to deliver the invocation. Graduating Master of Science student Jessica Avila then sang the national anthem beautifully.

KGI President Sheldon Schuster took to the stage to welcome all attendees, and invited School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Founding Dean Kathy Webster to the podium to bestow an honorary degree to a special guest: California State Senator Dr. Edward P. Hernandez, who spoke at the KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ first White Coat Ceremony in August 2014.

“Dr. Hernandez has been an agent of change for the better of society,” Webster said. “His leadership is helping to expand access to affordable healthcare, control hosts, and improve the network of providers so people can get quality care when they need it.” Dr. Hernandez was conferred the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy, honoris causa.

Following the honorary degree, graduating Master of Business and Science (MBS) student, Mahrad Saeedi, delivered the student speech to the KGI community. Saeedi talked about how the graduating class has one common denominator: “We are all incredibly passionate about science and medicine and we each strive to impact our global communities by seeking to improve patient outcomes and enhance the quality of care through innovation and collaboration.”

MBS student Zachary Wessler then presented the class gift—a large mural depicting the biotech tree of life—to President Schuster, faculty, staff, and future students of KGI. Schuster thanked the Class of 2018 for their gift, which will be a symbol of the contributions made to the future of applied life sciences and pharmacy.

President Schuster then welcomed KGI’s alumni speaker, Nida Khan, MBS ’06, to the podium. After graduating from KGI, Khan worked at Campbell Alliance, now Syneos Health, and since 2016 has worked as a Principal in the Lifesciences practice at Capgemini Consulting.

After welcoming the Class of 2018 as alumni, Khan shared six pieces of advice: “1) Know yourself; 2) Be humble, agile, and a lifelong student; 3) Life is not fair, so prepare for that; 4) Establish a work-life rhythm; 5) Follow your passion; and 6) Pull someone up!”

Saturday’s keynote speaker, Diana Dooley, serves as the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. In that role, she leads the 13 state departments within the Agency, chairs the independent health benefit exchange Covered California, and serves as chair or member of numerous other boards and commissions.

“What healthcare in this country needs now is leaders who will not let perfect be the enemy of good,” said Dooley. “In the next 10 years, we will see innovations in care in consumer engagement and cost control that no one could have imagined when this journey began.”

Alongside Bob Curry, deans Steven Casper and Kathy Webster presented the graduating classes. Degrees were awarded for completion of the following programs: Postdoctoral Professional Masters in Bioscience ManagementMaster of Engineering in Biopharmaceutical Processing, Master of Science in Applied Life Sciences, Master of Business and Science, Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Life Sciences, and Doctor of Pharmacy.

Directed by President Schuster, the graduating students moved their tassels from their right to their left to signify their transition from students to alumni of KGI.

“Over the past 15 years, we have learned and grown and matured,” said Schuster. “But what sets KGI apart?”

“Together, we have built an institution focused on the 21st century. The life sciences will affect every aspect of our lives. To benefit society, we must educate young people with practical knowledge.”

After the president’s closing remarks, the Class of 2018 proudly exited the venue in a recessional to a chorus of adoring family, friends, and colleagues.