Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) held the 2020 Commencement Ceremony virtually on Saturday, May 16, 2020. While the ceremony was different from prior years, what was not changed was that new CPHS alumni are now equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to make a difference in their professions.

The University Commencement Ceremony consisted of a video message from President Marty Martin. Martin addressed the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and reflected on the major events in his lifetime from the Vietnam War to 9/11. He stated that even though humanity will one day come out on the other side of the pandemic, it’s important to consider how we should behave during this time in history and who we will be when it is over. “So how do we behave? If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is that the best way to combat it is for each of us to be our best selves,” said Martin.

A video ceremony was also created for CPHS graduates that incorporated many of the same components as the live ceremony. Students were introduced as they “crossed” the screen instead of the stage. Students were hooded in their homes and shared celebratory photos and videos online. The CPHS sent the graduates bulldog face masks to use as they begin their careers in health care.

Receiving their degrees were 42 students receiving Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (B.S.), 34 receiving Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) degrees and doctoral hoods, and 96 receiving their Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees and doctoral hoods. In addition to the doctoral degrees, many students also received additional degrees or designations. Almost all of the OTD graduates completed a certificate, including Youth Mental Health First Aid, CEAS, LSVT-BIG or CLT (Certified Lymphedema Therapist); 12 of the PharmD students received an MBA degree, one received an MSLD, and two received a Master of Public Health from Des Moines University.

The ceremony included reflections from three of the graduating class student government representatives. McKenzie Temperly (HS), Emily Mock (OT), and Jessica Caelwaerts (PH) reflected on their experiences from the time they stepped foot on Drake’s campus to graduation, and provided words of encouragement for the graduates as they start their careers amidst a global pandemic.

Additional comments were provided by the Iowa Occupational Therapy President, Steve Bowen, who led the OTD graduates in the Oath of an Occupational Therapist; Iowa Pharmacy Association Executive Vice President and CEO, Kate Gainer, who led the PharmD graduates in the Oath of a Pharmacist. CoraLynn Trewet, PH’03, chair of the College’s National Advisory Council welcomed the graduates into the Drake CPHS alumni network. Trewet assured the graduates that even though the end of their educational journey might not be what they imagined due to the pandemic, they’re exactly where they are meant to be. “On behalf of all the proud Drake Alums who came before you and are ready to stand with you as you begin your career journeys – believe in yourself. Believe in your possibilities. Believe you are where you are meant to be for a purpose. You have a purpose. We believe in you.”

Graduate awards announced during the ceremony:

  • Alex McCormick – Mylan Excellence in Pharmacy Award 
  • Chloe Wall – Pharmacy Wolter Kluewer Clinical Drug Information Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication
  • Shania Wiltz – Russell Johnson Outstanding Community Pharmacy Practice Graduate Award
  • Kaitlyn Brueggen – Pharmacy Merck Royal Society of Chemistry Certificate of Excellence
  • Rebecca Rezac – United States Public Health Service Excellence in Pharmacy Public Health Award
  • Kelli Jo Welter – American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Senior Recognition Award
  • Eddie Mueller – Kappa Psi Henry J. Goeckel Grand Council Scholarship Key Award
  • Kaitlyn Brueggen and Erin Simpson – Lambda Kappa Sigma Ethel J. Heath Scholarship
  • Kelli Jo Welter – Jerry L. Karbeling Memorial Leadership Award
  • Hanna Risse – Health Sciences Experiential Student of the Year – Clinical & Applied Sciences
  • Jake Lewis – Health Sciences Experiential Student of the Year – Health Care Administration & Management 

    The 2020 CPHS Commencement Ceremony can be viewed here.