The Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy recently hosted a college awards banquet and commencement ceremony celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2011.

More than 20 awards were presented to Class of 2011 recipients May 13 in recognition of their hard work and excellence in the pharmacy field. Addressing the students, faculty, staff and guests at the awards banquet was keynote speaker Carlos Cortés, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Cortés is renowned for his expertise in the areas of multiculturalism, diversity and distance education. He is an author, co-author and senior consultant for several books and book series, written film and television documentaries, and serves as creative/cultural advisor for Nickelodeon’s Peabody-award-winning children’s television series, “Dora the Explorer” and its sequel, “Go, Diego, Go!”

Dr. Cortés presented his acclaimed one-person autobiographical play, “A Conversation with Alana: One boy’s multicultural rite of passage,” which depicts the cultural struggles throughout his life with racial and religious identity and the coming of age in a culturally complex society.

Many students were recognized at the college awards banquet for academic excellence or exemplary traits of leadership and professionalism in the pharmacy profession. The following recipients were chosen by faculty: CVS/Caremark Growth and Development Award, Rachel Jolly Bray; Dean’s Academic Achievement Award, Nichole Placida Ma; Facts and Comparison’s Award of Excellence in Clinical Communications, Erin Rinkenberger; H-E-B Guiding Principles Award, Mike De Luna; Irma Lerma Rangel Leadership Award, Rita M. Salinas; Kleberg Bank Community Service Award, Cristina Gonzales; Lilly Achievement Award, Mike De Luna; Merck and Co. Pharmaceutics Award, Cristina Gonzales; Moore’s Pharmacy Incorporated Outstanding Student Award, Jacquelyn Rather Connally; Mylan Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Pharmacy Award, Rachel Jolly Bray; Natural Medicines Database Graduation Award, Xuan Zhou; Pharmcare Integrated Pharmacotherapy Award, Amber Insook Chun; TEVA Pharmaceuticals Award, Jorge Solis II; Walgreens Innovative Community Practice Award, Maaya Srinivasa; and the Wal-Mart Retail Management Award, Jacquelyn Rather Connally.

The following awards honor and recognize those students who have achieved levels of development, leadership and maturity and  been recognized by their fellow classmates: American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists Mortar & Pestle Professionalism Award, Mike De Luna; American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists Leadership Award, Rita M. Salinas; Kappa Psi Legacy Award, Dan Ngoc Ly; National Community Pharmacists Association Award, Kevin Shimek; Phi Delta Chi Leadership Award, Alex Johnson; Phi Lambda Graduate Leadership Award, Rachel Jolly Bray; Rho Chi Award, Nichole Placida Ma; and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association Award, Roxana Myra Apacible. In addition to student awards, the college presented a special award to recognize Dr. Ronnie Ozuna, pharmacy clinical coordinator for the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, Texas, for excellence in mentoring students.

A day later, 70 graduates of the Class of 2011 proudly walked across the stage to receive their doctoral hoods and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees. This marks the second class to graduate from the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy.

Dr. Cortés served as the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony and offered the graduates some inspiring words about the importance of the oath of a pharmacy and the profession.

“The oath of a pharmacist is a deep obligation you accept as you enter into the pharmacy profession,” Dr. Cortés said. “You are making serious commitments and lofty goals, but pharmacy truly is a noble home. Welcome to your profession and never forget those goals you have sworn to pursue.”

— Andrew Ramirez