Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) recently welcomed first-year students into the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2027 and the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) Class of 2026. The College continued its tradition of welcoming the incoming students through a three-day professional orientation program, culminating with the White and Blue Coat Ceremonies on August 25, 2023. 

New this year was the awarding of blue coats to the occupational therapy students instead of the traditional white coats. The blue coats reflect Drake University’s school color and the significance honors the pioneers of the occupational therapy profession who wore slate blue uniforms as they served more than 100 years ago during World War I. 

The CPHS welcomed each class during two professional ceremonies on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Sheslow Auditorium. Renae Chesnut, professor and dean of the College, provided opening remarks during each ceremony. Chuck Phillips, associate dean of curriculum and assessment, announced the students as they walked across the stage one by one and donned their white or blue coats for the first time.

PharmD White Coat Ceremony

Pharmacy students heard remarks and advice from Carley Mullins, a 2024 PharmD Candidate and the chair of the College’s umbrella student organization, DRxUGS, which stands for the Drake Rx Unified Group of Students. The PharmD students also received a professional welcome from Kate Gainer, the Executive Director of the Iowa Pharmacy Association. Gainer led the PharmD students in reciting the Professional Pledge of a Student Pharmacist. 

PharmD Class of 2027

OTD Blue Coat Ceremony

Occupational therapy students heard remarks and advice from Abby DeAnna, a 2025 OTD Candidate and Student Governance O2 Class Representative, and a professional welcome from occupational therapist and Drake OTD alumna Corinne Frei, PH’21. Frei led the students in reciting the Professional Pledge of an Occupational Therapy Student. 

OTD Class of 2027

“The White and Blue Coat Ceremonies represent a significant rite of passage for our PharmD and OTD students as they begin their journeys in our professional programs. The Ceremonies allow our students the opportunity to come together as a class to don their white or blue coats and commit to their professions through their respective pledge of professionalism.” 

– Renae Chesnut, dean and professor

The academic performance and demographics of these classes reflect the intent of Drake to maintain its high academic standards for admitted students, recruit a diverse cohort of students, and attract students from a wide range of geographic locations. The PharmD Class of 2027 and the OTD Class of 2026 begin their professional journey with a solid academic foundation with pre-professional average GPAs of 3.47 and 3.45, respectively on a range from 3.0 to 4.0. Twenty-two percent of the combined incoming cohorts identify as students of color. Ninety-two percent of the OTD cohort and seventy-four of the PharmD cohort identify as female. The classes are also geographically diverse with students coming from New York, Arizona, California, and internationally, joining students from Iowa and surrounding states.

View the recording of the PharmD Class of 2027 White Coat Ceremony here.

View the recording of the OTD Class of 2026 Blue Coat Ceremony here.