ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy celebrates virtual hooding and commencement

Published 2:58 pm Monday, May 11, 2020

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JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy celebrated the Class of 2020 with a Virtual Hooding and Commencement for its 68 graduates on Friday, May 8.
The Class of 2020 is the 11th graduating class of Gatton College of Pharmacy, and the first class at the college to celebrate its commencement virtually.
In her address to the graduates, Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy, acknowledged that it is an unprecedented time, but one which the graduates are well prepared to face.
“You will be on the front lines of patient care, not just for COVID-19, but for many diseases and conditions that patients struggle with every day,” Byrd said. “I have heard so many stories of Gatton alumni who continue to care for patients in some of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. Pharmacists truly are health care heroes, and the world needs you now more than ever before.”
ETSU President Brian Noland also spoke to the graduates, noting that “The Class of 2020 has touched the lives of countless patients in clinics, health centers and in our region’s hospitals. You have worked alongside our faculty to conduct clinical research addressing critical health care challenges facing this nation. You have taken part in vital interprofessional educational efforts where you have learned the importance of working in teams to deliver the best health care possible to your patients. Your contributions are visible and will continue to be felt throughout our community.”
The virtual ceremony, which took place on the college’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, also featured remarks from Dr. Wilsie Bishop, senior vice president for academics and interim provost; Steve Ellis, assistant dean for Student Affairs; Daniel Cox, class president; and class hooders Dr. David Roane, chair and professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Dr. Sarah Melton, professor of Pharmacy Practice. For the doctoral hooding, the most important part of the ceremony for any pharmacy graduate, students submitted videos of their hooding by family members and loved ones. In addition, the ceremony included numerous well wishes from faculty, staff, graduates and their families and loved ones.
Several individual awards were presented, including academic awards to Makayla Brashears and Kirsti Shatley, who earned the Pharmacy Valedictorian Achievement Award recognizing the highest-ranking students in the graduating class.
Other awards included: the Merck Award for Pharmacy Excellence to Jessica Brooke Bouldin and Danielle Eskens; the Wolters Kluwer Health Facts & Comparisons Award to Daniel Cox; the Baeteena M. Black Leadership Award to Lauren Dickerson; the Gatton College of Pharmacy Patient Care Award to James Elliott; the Mylan Institute of Pharmacy Excellence Award to Anes Karic; the Gary Mabrey Community Service Award to Christie Monahan; the U.S.  Public Health Service Excellence in Pharmacy Award to Mahnaz Rahimi Baladezaei; and the Guy B. Wilson Jr. Leadership Award to Lily Tran.
Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy’s Virtual Commencement and Hooding can be viewed at, on its Facebook page at and the college’s YouTube channel at

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