A barrage of flashbulbs greeted the Albany College of Pharmacy Class of 2008 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Sunday as hundreds of proud friends and family members attended graduation of the largest class in the college’s 128-year history.
Most of the 196 graduates received their doctor of pharmacy degree at the commencement ceremony, the culmination of a six-year effort that Albany College of Pharmacy President James Gozzo called a rigorous and challenging program.
“Every year, it seems I tell the graduates that you couldn’t be graduating at a better time,” he said. “There are so many opportunities.”
The commencement address was given by Geno Germano, a 1983 graduate of the college who is now the president of the U.S. division and general manager of pharmaceuticals for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
“Find the work that you absolutely love,” he told the graduates assembled Sunday. “Be sure to find what it is and don’t give up until you do.”
Germano started with Wyeth as a sales representative after college. Following a brief time at a Johnson & Johnson company, he returned to Wyeth to accept a junior marketing position there.
He now lives in Philadelphia with his family and oversees $10 billion in annual sales for Wyeth.
Germano called a doctor of pharmacy degree the “ultimate safety net.”
“Seek the advice of lots of people,” he said. “Before you make a decision, be sure to trust, most of all, your own mind and your own heart.”
According to Gozzo, the graduates will land in jobs in 20 states and Canada. He said some will work in community pharmacies, some will start their own businesses and others will work in law and teaching.
“We will never truly be separated,” said Ryan Madison, the president of the class of 2008. “This journey ends. Another one begins.”
The Albany College of Pharmacy was founded in 1881 as the Department of Pharmacy of Union University.
“I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy,” states the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s oath for pharmacy graduates. “I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.”
“Who is appropriately qualified to take this oath that you make?” asked James Anderson in his invocation at the event. “The answers to these questions may simply be the creator.”
Two students received bachelor’s degrees in pharmaceutical sciences on Sunday, and one received a bachelor’s in biomedical technology.
Some of the doctor of pharmacy graduates completed a three-year accelerated program in which they attended classes year-round.
A license to practice pharmacy is required in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories. To obtain a license, students must graduate with a doctor of pharmacy degree and pass several tests.
Although many of the graduates are New Yorkers, countries represented in the Class of 2008 include Canada, Cameroon, India and South Korea.
Anderson said the graduates were embarking on “a life of service to humankind for the relief of human suffering.”
“Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Maintain your passion for service,” Gozzo said. “That will distinguish you.”
THEN AND NOW
The Albany College of Pharmacy was founded in 1881 by Archibald McClure and several of his colleagues.
THEN: Tuition for the 21-week term in 1881 was $15. Students also paid a $3 matriculation fee and a $10 graduation fee.
NOW: Yearly tuition for the six-year doctor of pharmacy program is $20,650. Tuition for the sixth year is slightly higher due to additional course requirements.
THEN: Just three faculty members were on staff for the first year of the college, with four courses offered.
NOW: More than 80 full-time faculty members teach more than 110 courses.
THEN: The college’s first international student, Huvand Hekimian, of then-Asia Minor, graduated in 1889.
NOW: The 196-member Class of 2008 includes 14 international students, most of whom are from Canada.
Source: Albany College of Pharmacy Web site
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: