A crowd of almost 900 students, faculty and staff gathered on Tuesday in Gore Arena for the 34th College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Convocation.
“It’s wonderful to have all CPHS students, faculty and staff come together to mark the beginning of the academic year,” said Dean Michael L. Adams (’96 PharmD, PhD). “This is a light-hearted, but impactful event where we hear inspirational messages and are challenged to excel even more. Convocation is an opportunity to put things in perspective and focus on the positive change we want to make in the world.”
The ceremony included greetings from University Provost Mark L. Hammond and from CPHS Alumni Association President-Elect Julia Niemi (’17 MPAP), along with remarks from four current students.
- Ronald “Trace” Alligood, III, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Class of 2020
- Evan W. Lucas, Master of Clinical Research and Doctor of Pharmacy, Class of 2020
- Cassidy Elmore, Doctor of Pharmacy, Class of 2021 and President, Pharmacy Student Executive Board
- Olivia Bloom, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Class of 2020
Cornell P. Wright, executive director of the NC DHHS Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, opened his keynote address by having everyone take selfies with the people around them.
“I never dreamed we’d have fun taking photos during the ceremony,” said first-year PharmD student Phoenix Riley. “It was a great way to engage all of us and focus our minds on his message. We really enjoyed it. Even the dean and program heads were taking selfies. It’s so great to see everyone having a good time.”
Wright told the crowd, “The work we do is not necessarily for ourselves, but it is to help others.” He went on to share the importance of healthcare, but how the providers need to care for themselves as well.
“As we think about what we do, what we’re inspired to do and how we’re trying to help communities across this state, across this community, across the country, across the world — you cannot do that if you are not right yourself. So you need to have self-care plan. It can be very simple. Find out what works for you, what calms you down, and what things are therapeutic to you.” He continued with a challenge, “What I charge you with is to take care of yourself just as much as you help take care of others.”
When his remarks were coming to a close, Wright left the group with these words, “Communities need innovation, they need inspiration, but you also have to have a foundation. And this is what you are getting here now. You are finishing up the foundational pieces of your life that will be the cornerstones of the building blocks of your future. Inside the box we find our foundation, outside the box we find our inspiration and our innovation. Now go build upon the box.”