Published on April 24, 2023 by Frank Ruggiero  
pinning ceremony 2023
The annual pinning ceremony recognizes the transition of third-year pharmacy students from classroom to clinicals. During the ceremony, each student is awarded a professional pin to wear on the lapel of their white coat.

While most Samford University students were studying for final exams, some decided to put a pin in it.

Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy honored its third-year Doctor of Pharmacy students at its annual professional pinning ceremony on April 14.

The ceremony serves to recognize the transition of third-year pharmacy students from the mostly classroom environment to the final year of Samford’s pharmacy program, which consists of clinicals. During the ceremony, each student is awarded a professional pin to wear on the lapel of their white coat.

“The purpose of this ceremony is to recognize this important milestone and to emphasize that these students are taking on new responsibilities and a higher level of professionalism as they represent themselves—and the school—to patients and the broader pharmacy community,” McWhorter School of Pharmacy Dean Michael Crouch said. “Knowing these students, the faculty who have mentored them and our rigorous curriculum, I have no doubt they will do a fantastic job and are ready for the task ahead.”

For their clinicals, students complete at least eight, five-week pharmacy practice experiences in a variety of settings, including community, ambulatory care, health system and general medicine environments.

To help them succeed in such environments, alumna Carrie Kreps, Pharm.D. ’02, offered some advice in her keynote address.

“Use this opportunity to network and get to know your preceptors well,” said Kreps, who also serves as a preceptor and dean’s advisory board member for McWhorter School of Pharmacy. “If you haven’t already, you will quickly learn that the world of pharmacy is very small. We are all connected either by marriage, friendship, the workplace or former classmates.”

She also encouraged students to stay in touch with the faculty and events at the school.

“Do not be surprised that the biggest cheerleaders for you will be the professors and preceptors that you once felt were your toughest critics,” she said. “This faculty has been pivotal in my career. They have boosted me and encouraged me in ways I never expected. I could never have imagined the people I have on my side now when I was sitting where you are.”

Lastly, Kreps shared what she called “the most impactful statement” she’s ever been told.

“Always keep in mind, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” she said. “Really listen to your patients, coworkers, fellow students and preceptors. When you actually care about the concerns being voiced, that, my friends, is the sweet spot where your problem-solving magic and resourcefulness kicks in and you find a solution that only you could offer.”

In addition to the presentation of professional pins to all third-year students, the school recognized students’ academic achievements and presented two significant awards.

Nine students were celebrated for scoring in the overall 90th percentile of the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment, a national, standardized assessment developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Those students include Leigh Ballard, Hannah Blevins, Noah Gann, Savannah Laird, Madison Pinke, Braden Read, Elise Richoux, Grant Smith and Andrew Willingham.

Third-year pharmacy student Samantha Wade was named this year’s recipient of the Cardinal Health Annual Independent Pharmacy Scholarship, the largest scholarship awarded by the school. Established in 2012 by Cardinal Health, the award provides a full-tuition scholarship for the final year of pharmacy school. Danny McAnally, manager of Territory Sales for Cardinal Health, was present to announce the recipient.

Crouch noted that the selection process for this scholarship is never easy, but that this year was particularly difficult. To that end, runners-up Clare Brewster and Destiny Rogers were each awarded $5,000 toward the fourth year of their program.

Finally, associate professor Jessica Skelley was this year’s recipient of the Margaret Self Propst Teacher of the Year Award. This is the highest teaching honor given by McWhorter School of Pharmacy, and it is voted upon by students.

In nominating Skelley, students described her as “an incredible professor that is constantly available to give advice when students are struggling” and who is “committed to the profession of pharmacy and loves to share their passion with everyone they meet.” Further, her “care and dedication to every student does not go unnoticed, and we are truly grateful to have such an amazing professor.”

In closing, third-year student Sarah Skaggs read from James 1:2-5: “My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

“These past three years have come with various trials, but these trials have prepared us for the year to come,” Skaggs said. “May we serve our patients this next year with patience, perseverance and wisdom. I have no doubt as a class we will be able to accomplish abundantly the work the Lord has set before us.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.