Pharmacy Students Honored, Inspired During Annual White Coat Ceremony

Pharmacy Dean Barbara Wells helps Jeremy Gibson of Gautier with his white coat during the ceremony. UM photo by Harry Briscoe.

OXFORD, Miss. – As James “J.R.” Davidson walked across the stage of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts to receive his white coat Thursday evening (Aug. 13), the third-year pharmacy student felt perhaps a greater level of expectation than most of his classmates.

“I’m the second-generation pharmacist in my immediate family and the fifth person in my entire family to go to (pharmacy) school at Ole Miss, so it’s kinda been a family tradition for me to be involved with pharmacy and to get to see it firsthand,” said Davidson, a Booneville native.

“It’s my turn to step up, and I’ve reached the point in my life where it’s just like ‘you’re growing up.’ And it’s such an honor to wear the coat that so many have worn before me, that I’ve gotten to see work on a professional level. It’s humbling, and at the same time, I’m very honored.”

Davidson was among 97 first professional-year students to receive their white coats during the ceremony, a decade-old tradition for the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. Many of the school’s faculty members attended the ceremony, along with hundreds of family members and friends.

The white coat is the universal symbol of professionalism in the health care professions, and the ceremony is a way of formally recognizing and foste

ring students’ commitment to professionalism, said Barbara G. Wells, UM pharmacy dean. Besides graduation, the white coat ceremony is her favorite event of the year, Wells said.

“I encourage you to begin to think of yourselves as professionals right now, this minute, if you have not already,” she charged students during her welcome address.

UM Provost Morris Stocks provided the ceremony’s keynote, urging students to become lifelong learners, and Leigh Ann Ross, the pharmacy school’s associate dean for clinical affairs, led the group in a recitation of the Pledge of Professionalism. Each student signed two copies of the pledge before Wells helped them don their coats.

Jeremy Gibson of Gautier said he is definitely taking the challenges implied by his white coat to heart.

“Immediately, I’m just going to think about patients and patient care,” said Gibson, who began dreaming about a career in pharmacy when he was in ninth grade. “I believe that they come first, and you have to always benefit them, help prolong their lives and meet their needs. That’s definitely the challenge for any health care profession, not just pharmacy, and you have to take it seriously.”


Video by Mary Stanton.


The opportunity to work with people also attracted Laura Luther of Hattiesburg to pharmacy school.

“I love elderly people and I love working with the poor, and I think those are two groups of people in our society that get forgotten,” she said. “And pharmacy is something that ministers to all kinds of people, and that’s what I want to do.”

Luther began thinking about a career in pharmacy when she was in 10th grade and chose UM over Samford University.

“I loved the campus. I loved the faculty and the pharmacy school, and I really loved the early entry option. A lot of other schools don’t offer that, but it’s great to have that confidence that you’re already accepted two years down the line when a lot of people are just starting to apply.”

Other Mississippi students participating in the ceremony were Robin Parker of Batesville; Sara Roberts of Benton; Brian Jackson and Rachal Pavlov of Biloxi; Jody Fulper of Booneville; Karissa Mizner and Stephen Speights of Brandon; Brandon Baker, Kelli Herrington and Mallory de Johnson of Brookhaven; Amanda Johnson of Carriere; Bryan Taylor of Coldwater; Kelli Turbyfill of Collinsville; Ngoc Dang of Columbus; Laura Shrock of Durant; Joseph Galjour of Ellisville; Anna Hood of Eupora; Ashley Nettles of Forest; Samantha Thompson of French Camp; Kevin Chieh of Gautier; Jennifer Lam, Michael Noggle and Karen Wilson of Gulfport; Chance Lancaster of Hattiesburg; Elizabeth Rodgers of Hernando; Sabin Neely of Holcomb; Brentin Ramsey of Hollandale; Lee Jones, Miranda Jordan and Callie Lyons of Jackson; Amanda Reed of Lake Cormorant; Lindsey Corbin of Lambert; Lindsay Hieser of Long Beach; Amber Eaves of Louisville; Brett Barnes and Meagan Boykin of Madison; Joshua Pierce of Mendenhall; Holly Butler, Richard Moffett and Justin Scarbrough of Meridian; Lauren Sullivan of Mount Olive; Allison Aldridge of Nesbit; Ashlee Parker of Nettleton; Justin Cummings, Lisa Pederson and Amber Phillips of Olive Branch; Zachary Brent, Lauren Freeman, Robert Johnson, Dion Kevin, Sylvester Lee, Eugene Lukienko, Lauren Martino, Ryan McCready, Michael McGuire, Jonathan McShane and Rachel Roberts of Oxford; Autumn Gurry and Betsy Morgan of Philadelphia; Andrea Hodge and Leah Whitt of Pontotoc; Anna Dobbins of Quitman; Cynthia Tran of Ridgeland; Chephra McKee and John Michael Segars of Saltillo; Jessica White of Senatobia; Jessica Alexander and Chad McDonald of Starkville; William Zirk Ray of Toomsuba; Ann Clark Gannaway of Tunica; Lauren Stanford of Tupelo; Jennifer Johnson of Tylertown; Amber Davis of Wesson; Jacob Sprouse of West Point; and Jessica Summers of Winona.

Out-of-state students earning their white coats include Christopher Switzer of Birmingham, Ala.; Sarah Hill of Searcy, Ark.; Anna Wardlow of Springdale, Ark.; Quyen Tran of San Diego, Calif.; Mary Milewski of Temple Terrace, Fla.; Natalie Thomas of Atlanta, Ga.; Kristen Koon of Belleville, Ill.; Drue Fritschle of Carmi, Ill.; Liz Nguyen of Seymour, Ind.; Courtney Carpenter of Kenner, La.; Angelle Baudoin of Raceland, La.; Emily Calongne of Slidell, La.; Elizabeth Cannon of Columbia, Md.; Ikenna Unigwe of Silver Spring, Md.; Morgan Hall of Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Andrew Loeffler of Hanover, N.J.; Laurin Dixon of Germantown, Tenn.; Mary Morgan Alexander of Memphis, Tenn.; and Lindsey Akers of The Woodlands, Texas.

For more information on the UM School of Pharmacy, go to .