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KGI Celebrates PharmD Class of 2026, MSPA Class of 2024, and OTD Class of 2025 at White Coat Ceremony

The Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (SPHS) celebrated its Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) class of 2026, Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) class of 2024, and Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) class of 2025 on Saturday, October 8, 2022, at the annual White Coat Ceremony. View the photo album.

The formal ceremony recognized students as members of the pharmacy, physician assistant, and occupational therapy professions. The event took place at the Scripps Garrison Theater in Claremont, CA.

Symbolizing dedication to clinical service and patient care, the ceremony includes each student receiving a white coat to signify the beginning of the student’s career. For students whose parents are in the profession, the white coat was given by that respective parent.

KGI President Dr. Sheldon Schuster opened the ceremony by introducing Father Joe Fenton from The Claremont Colleges Office of the Chaplains. Following the invocation and singing of the National Anthem, President Schuster also welcomed the students into the KGI community and introduced Dr. Srikanth Kolluru, Interim Dean of SPHS.

“To the incoming students: today, we celebrate you,” said Kolluru. “All of you are the future of healthcare and will save patient lives. We are so excited as you embark on the next stage of your professional career.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, chief executive officer at Healthcare in Action, which provides care to older adults and other vulnerable individuals who experience homelessness.

“KGI is a truly tremendous organization doing amazing things,” said Hochman.

“The three fields that KGI SPHS students represent are truly the most important fields and disciplines that will change the landscape of healthcare over the next decade and beyond.”

Following the keynote address, KGI Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Widergren made remarks and introduced additional speakers. For pharmacy, the speakers included Dr. Daniel Kudo, President of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists and current KGI Professor of Practice; Paul Huynh, Healthcare Supervisor for Pharmacy and Retail Operations at Walgreens; Angela Chanda Pootrakul, Executive Vice President of RxRelief; Dr. Theera Thamlikitkul of CVS Health; and Christopher Garcia, PharmD ’25, KGI student representative.

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Gail Orum led the presentation of the white coats for KGI’s PharmD students. After being formally cloaked with their coats, Association Professor of Clinical Sciences Dr. Quintin Broussard led the PharmD student recitation of the Pledge of Professionalism.

Next, speakers for OTD took to the stage: Kiley Hanish, Founder and Executive Director of Return to Zero and H.O.P.E., Los Angeles; and Dr. Vikas Sharma, KGI’s OTD Program Director and Professor of Practice.

Sharma led the presentation of the white coats for KGI’s OTD students. After being cloaked with their coats, KGI Adjunct Faculty Shari Emas led the OTD students in the recitation of the pledge of professionalism.

MSPA Program Director and Professor of Practice Christy Eskes spoke to KGI’s MSPA students and presented them with white coats. Jason Laird, KGI’s director of clinical education and professor of practice, led the MSPA students in the recitation of the pledge of professionalism.

President Schuster concluded the ceremony with these words to the students: “You have taken an oath and are continuing a process of hard work, learning, and of professional and personal growth,” he said. “We wish you much success on your journey and hope to be a part of your growth.”