Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Years of hard work culminated in graduation May 11 for University of Iowa (UI) College of Pharmacy Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students. Hundreds of family members, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni gathered at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City to hear the word “doctor” precede the name of 104 young professionals for the first time.

During their time at the College, the class of 2023 underwent two major events: Covid 19 restrictions and transitioning into a brand-new building – the last cohort to have studied in both facilities. Dean Donald Letendre reflected on this in his remarks, stating the group will always be P3s in his mind, representing the pandemic, perseverance, and pride.

Hoyt DeVolder Speaks at PharmD 2023 Commencement
Hoyt DeVolder, '23 PharmD

Class President Hoyt DeVolder echoed those sentiments. “Our class is the most resilient class (the College of Pharmacy) has seen in many years,” he said. DeVolder went on to liken what lies ahead of the graduates to holding a newborn baby, something he had recently done, in that it’s scary and yet exciting.

Guest speaker Charlie Tobler, ’90 BSPh, executive vice president with TerSera Therapeutics, continued that theme by telling graduates that stages in life are like a chapter book: they start, are written, and then they end.

“As you leave here, you are going to start writing the first chapter of your postgraduate life,” said Tobler. “You are extraordinary people. I believe you all are going to have to get uncomfortable. There can be risks, but also rewards. If you feel queasy, that’s a good thing. Always give yourself time to consider options, because this degree is so versatile.”

2023 PharmD Commencement - Charlie Tobler Speaking
Commencement speaker Charlie Tobler, '90 BSPh, addresses the graduates.

Pharmacy Family
Tobler ended his speech by encouraging the class to stay in touch with the College. “Don’t let this (connectedness) fade, no matter 
how far away you are,” he said.

Additional commencement participants included Marty Scholtz, UI vice president for Research, Susan Vos, associate dean and clinical professor; and Nancy Dunkel, Board of Regents.

In his closing comments, Letendre told the graduates that they are now members of a distinct community called pharmacy.

“Henceforth, you will be called pharmacists and are about to enter a special covenant with the public, those you have been entrusted to serve,” he said.

Prior to commencement, a recognition event was held May 10 in the College’s first-floor auditorium and lobby for graduating students and their families. Vos announced individuals receiving dual degrees, certificates, recognition cords, and more, while Letendre introduced and presented the commencement speaker’s medallion to Tobler. Iowa Pharmacy Association Director of Professional Affairs Emmeline Paintsil was also on hand and congratulated the graduates on joining a dedicated group of professionals. 


The class of 2023 had numerous accomplishments, including:

  • Academic Excellence Awards:  Emma Erner, Nicole Hanna, Morgan Koenen, Kaitlyn Mulder, Ara Wiese 
  • United States Public Health Service Award:  Ayah Taha
  • Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Dean’s Achievement Award:  Keitasha Arnold 
  • Students Receiving a Combined Doctor of Pharmacy/Master's of Health Informatics Degree:  1
  • Students Receiving a Combined Doctor of Pharmacy/Master’s of Public Health Degree: 5
  • Students Completing the Health Care Business Leadership Program:  37
  • Students Receiving a Certificate in Palliative Care:  11
  • Students Receiving ExCEL Cords (Excellence in Community Engagement, Leaders, and Service):  41
  • Students Graduating as First-Generation Students:  34
  • Students Matching with a PGY1 Residency Program:  48

Future Plans
Based on an exit survey*, graduates will be going to at least 22 states, with at least 36.7% staying in Iowa. The week of commencement, graduates reported the following post-graduation plans:

  • Pharmacy Employment: 33%
  • Pharmacy Residency: 44.7%
  • Fellowship: 1.0%
  • Post-Graduate Education: 1.9%
  • Still Determining Plans: 12.6%
  • No Information: 5.8%

*Survey included 103 graduates who completed their degrees in May 2023. An additional student will finish later this year.

Class of 2023 Doctor of Pharmacy Graduates
Tahani Mahamat Abdallah Elena Li Foulke James Novak
Maisaa Abudagga Emoryan Fevrier Foxe Ashlyn Paillon**
Richarda Agyemang Tanner Richard Frey Emily Marie Paulus
Abdullah Naseem M Al Humood Emily Caitlyn Gajda** Nadia Phouphommakhith
Ashgan Abdullah H Alshawy Dylan Gao** Catherine Ponto
Asmaa Ali Alzhrani Nicholas Garza Brieanna K Priebe
Jessica Ravin Anderson Molly Gavin** Ramya Ravi
Jasmina Arnaut Jasmine Hyacinth Gronek Taylor Roder**
Keitasha Nicole Arnold* Matt Hamilton Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez IV
Elyass Bin Alsheikh Nicole Ashley Hanna*** Anna Christine Ruby-Trzeciak*
Keirstin Broadway Lakyn Rae Hanson Komel Narmeen Shahid
Lynn Hoang Bui** Sanya Zia Hassan* Leah Jo Siewert
Tiffany Hien Bui* Denisse Herrera Veronica Magen Snow
Ellen Maureen Carlson** Michael Thomas Hickman Esther Seongwon Soh
Jordan Antonio Cervantes Keaton Lance Higgins Kari Sue Starbeck*
Alice Yinlan Chang Claire Ashley Holtz* Emily Grace Steimel*
Elise Jaye Chang** Caitlyn Elizabeth Jerkins Ayah Samir Taha
Paul Choeun Travis Mitchell Johnston Maddison Elaine Thoma
Connor Gregory Clark Chan Woo Kim Miah Rae Thompson
Riley Ann Clark** Jeong Ah Kim Audrey Katherine Tinkey
Hannah Elaine Clausen Kelsey Rae Kiwala* Annie Tram*
Reumina Cufurovic MacKenzie Noelle Kleinheksel Hailey Lynn Tweden
Sydney Day Morgan Ann Koenen*** Alison Urbanski
Hoyt Thomas DeVolder Travis J Larson Emily Kate VanOtterloo**
Lucas Dinh Brooke Lawler** Hannah VanTruong**
William Patrick Dunscombe Josh Lechner** Kamy Vargas-Freytes
Hanna Rebecca Ebel Brooklyn McCuddin** John Michael Voller
Emma Rose Erner*** Justin McKee Tian Wang
Lucia Ann Ernst* Nathaniel Lee Merten* Alyssa Weber*
Kirstin Pacetti Faul Benjamin Joseph Meyer Ara Wiese**
Brock Fischer Milagro Rayn Michels-Cordao Peirce Lake Williams
Kelsey Ann Floerchinger** Gabrielle Marie Morrow Rony Wright
Allison Folin** Trey Joseph Mueller** Allyssa Danielle Yahnke
Tyler M Forer Kaitlyn Ann Mulder*** Amanda Sarah Zehnle
Caitlin Danielle Forrester Madison Kathryn Mustread Muris Zenelji

* With Distinction
** With High Distinction
*** With Highest Distinction