White Coats Symbolize New Beginnings for College of Pharmacy Class of 2026

By Benjamin Waldrum

The event, held at Connor Performing Arts Center at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, had a lively atmosphere, with hundreds attending and parking overflowing into several lots. Students dressed in their best and snapped photos together before and after the ceremony.

Cindy Stowe

Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D., said she hoped the Class of 2026 would embrace the challenges before them.Bryan Clifton

“This event marks your class’ transition into the profession of pharmacy as student pharmacists,” said Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D. “The path is not always easy, but I believe that the rewards are great. I hope that as members of the Class of 2026 you embrace these challenges. I think you will be amazed at your accomplishments and who you have become once you finish this program.”

Students arrived in August to begin their didactic curriculum, which will continue through their third year. The final and fourth year of pharmacy school is the experiential curriculum, which includes advanced practice experiences also commonly referred to as rotations.

Although last year’s ceremony was the college’s first in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic, friends and family still attended virtually. This time, everyone could clap and cheer together in the same auditorium.

Alanna Bramwell, a 2024 Doctor of Pharmacy candidate, served as master of ceremonies and led the first-year students in reciting the pledge of professionalism.

Mary Bradley

Keynote speaker Mary Bradley, Pharm.D., told the students to treat every patient like family.Bryan Clifton

“This is the greatest state in America to practice pharmacy,” said John Vinson, Pharm.D., COP ’05, CEO and executive vice president of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association. “The last two or three years I know have been challenging, but for the profession of pharmacy it’s been some tremendous opportunities to advance the services that we provide to save lives. We’re so happy and so proud to have you as part of our profession.”

Mary Bradley, Pharm.D., COP ’16, a staff pharmacist at Arkansas Children’s, gave the keynote address and emphasized putting people first. She offered examples of multiple meaningful patient experiences before revealing that each one was a family member who played an important role in her personal and professional growth.

“I did not take care of them in a professional capacity, but their hardships, and my role in them, shaped who I am as a professional today,” Bradley said. “I say this to underscore the fact that behind every patient is a family member or a close friend who might find themselves in a helpless situation, and they may need you.”

COP students read pledge

Students recited the pledge of professionalism, like countless classes before them.Bryan Clifton

“I am blessed to have had the privilege to earn knowledge through hard work and excellent training at UAMS that helps me care for my patients, all of whom I try to treat like family,” Bradley added. “You now have the privilege of learning to do the same.”

Student ambassadors for the event, who assisted with programs, organization and seating, student lineups and coating, were Rilie Vote, Kendall Perkins, Amanda Russell, Jessica Allred, Katherine Snider, Mattie Schanandore, Nicholas Hollowell, Madeline Griffin, Mary Siebenmorgan, Jennifer Portillo, Peyton Dodd, Joe Brill, Alexa Ramick, Emily Carter and Dylan Yowell.