The class of 2016 at Hawaiʻi’s College of Pharmacy at University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is on its way. The first year students at the only fully accredited pharmacy college in the Pacific region participated in an important rite of passage on Saturday, Oct. 13, the white coat ceremony.
An important announcement was made at the event about the college, which was founded in 2006.
“I’m very pleased to announce for the first time that the last graduating class had a pass rate of 94 percent,” said College of Pharmacy Dean John Pezzuto, referring to the national exam that every pharmacist must pass to be licensed.
The announcement was met with a loud and long applause.
The student pharmacists know there is a lot of work ahead for the next four years and were challenged and encouraged at the ceremony by every speaker, including Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi.
“Never ever doubt yourself,” said Kenoi. “You got here already. All you got to do is keep doing what you did to get you here in the first place. You already know how to succeed. That’s why you are here.”
State and Hawaiʻi county dignitaries were on hand as the college’s faculty helped the 89 students don their white coats. They then recited the “Oath of a Pharmacist” as they affirmed their commitment to professionalism, respect, integrity and caring.
“I think it hit me when the associate dean made his opening speech,” said student pharmacist Moani Hagiwara after the ceremony. “I kind of got a little chicken skin. A chill went through my body.”
“Couple of seconds before I walked on the stage and I saw the procession line and shaking everybody’s hand and realize then, this is really it,” said fellow student pharmacist Kyle Cabison. “My palms started getting a little sweaty, heartbeat got a little faster.”
“It’s a mixture of being overwhelmed and happy at the same time I guess,” said student Necole Miyazaki.
The students were greeted by proud family and friends after the ceremony.
“It feels really good,” said student pharmacist Allan Higa who was covered with lei. “Now I feel like I’m getting on the pathway of becoming a pharmacist. And I feel like I’m part of the community and I’m obligated to serve them.”
“I’m very excited,” agreed Hagiwara. “I grew up here on this island too, so it’s a little bit of home pride as well. It’s exciting to have it here especially.”