2013 Spring Commencement
PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (May 17, 2013) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore delivered on a promise today that was more than a decade in the making – producing professionally trained pharmacists.
Fifty-seven graduates earned their field’s top academic credential – a doctor of pharmacy degree – culminating an intense three years of classroom study and field training on the Eastern Shore and beyond.
They were among 421 students awarded degrees during spring commencement exercises that attracted an enthusiastic, near capacity crowd to the William P. Hytche Athletic Center.
Lisa P. Jackson, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during President Obama’s first term, challenged the class of 2013 to join her as advocates for a clean environment.
Ten percent of Americans, Jackson said, do not have routine access to clean water. One way to make a difference in the lives of others, she said, is working to provide those 30 million people with a basic necessity of life – safe, clean water.
One-third of UMES’newly minted pharmacy graduates told university officials they already have jobs working as pharmacists across Delmarva. Sixteen of the 57 will be working in hospitals or medical centers.
Decola Johnson of Snow Hill said she was “proud to be a member of the charter class of School of Pharmacy.”
“This is truly a treasure for the Eastern Shore,” said Johnson, who also earned her undergraduate degree from UMES. “The program was tough, challenging. But I wouldn’t have wanted to go any other place to earn this degree.”
Before UMES launched its program in August 2010, only the University of Maryland in Baltimore trained pharmacists dating back to the mid 19th century.
UMES is one of a handful of the nation’s 129 institutions with an accredited pharmacy school that offers an “accelerated curriculum,” which means students go to school year-round and finish their degree work in three years instead of the traditional four.
UMES and Eastern Shore civic leaders credit the late legislator, D. Page Elmore, with being the university’s chief advocate in Annapolis who helped the university win approval to open a pharmacy school. A pharmacy scholarship fund is named in honor of Elmore, who died in 2010.
Nine students, including DeAngelo Price of Fruitland, will go on to post-graduate residency assignments at such places as Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Cristus Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio and the State University of New York – Buffalo.
Price, 23, called earning his doctorate in pharmacy, “the best experience in the world. It’s a relief – and a blessing, really.”
“I had a wonderful experience. It was well worth the time I had to put in,” Price said. “The salaries are certainly generous, but I believe it’s also just as important to be dedicated to role of helping people. Be humble about it.”
Michael Geesaman of Snow Hill said receiving his Pharm.D. degree was the fulfillment of a goal he’s had since high school.
“I always liked science, especially chemistry, and I thought about getting into the medical field” Geesaman said. “Being able to become a pharmacist is a way to combine those two interests and do something with my life to help people.”
Bill Robinson, director, Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355