Commencement Hooders Selected by Class of 2022

Drs. Aull, May, Seagraves, Smith

If you ask a recent doctoral graduate to share the most meaningful part of their Commencement Ceremony, they likely will tell you it was being hooded by a faculty member. This symbolic gesture signifies the successful completion of a graduate’s scholastic endeavors, the commitment to a continued pursuit of knowledge, and the passing of the guard from one generation to the next.

This timed-honored tradition dates back to the 11th or 12th century, when cloaks and hoods were actually everyday attire at medieval European universities, mostly worn to protect against the elements. The trend entered the U.S. by way of Kings College (now Columbia) in Colonial New York in the 1880s and quickly became prevalent in other academic institutions – and more ceremonial.  Based on the color and décor of the garb, the wearer’s school, degree, and field of study could always be identified.  (In the case of the UGA College of Pharmacy, the hood is olive green, signifying the degree and profession of pharmacy, and the black cloak is trimmed with red velvet, designating the University of Georgia.) 

Fast forward to this century and this College, and there’s even more significance to this ceremonial act. Faculty members who are doing the hooding are actually selected by the graduates they hood.

“The hooding portion of our Commencement has double significance,” said Dean Kelly Smith.  “We honor doctoral graduates who have worked diligently to reach this milestone. In turn, the graduates acknowledge professors who have had a significant impact on their academic journey by selecting them to be hooders.”

This year, four familiar and beloved faculty members will be on stage May 7th to place the olive-colored hoods on the approximate 125 students participating in the ceremony – Dr. Larry Aull, Dr. Rusty May, Dr. Brian Seagraves, and Dr. Susan Smith. This hooding quartet reflected on their selection for the esteemed honor and offered advice and best wishes to the Class of 2022.

Dr. Larry Aull

“That’s what it’s all about; real world application of classroom learning.”

What does it mean to be selected as a hooder by the students?

Teaching and mentoring students is my reason for being here. It’s what gets me up and motivated for the day. So, it’s very important to me that students feel I provide a positive learning experience for them. I want them to know that I care about their success. Being selected as a hooder tells me that our relationship is on the right track, and I am very thankful for that.

What do you enjoy most about being Pharmacy teacher/professor?

Getting to know the students on a personal basis is very humbling and rewarding. I am always amazed at some of their backgrounds and ambitions. Knowing that I have some small role to play in their maturation as a health professional is quite satisfying. The other thing I enjoy is when students email me or mention to me face-to-face that they had a situation at work, on APPEs, or at home in which they used information from my class to help someone make a decision – and it unfolds just as we discussed in class. That’s what it’s all about; real world application of classroom learning.

What words of advice would you offer members of the Class of 2022?

Your career aspirations may change over time. I am a prime example of that, having changed my career path multiple times as my interests and goals changed. So, don’t feel like you are stuck in a job that you don’t care for. I’ve seen too many pharmacists wish they were doing something else, but they keep plugging along and complaining about their situation. Find something that you truly enjoy and realize it could change down the road. There are many opportunities to mold your work-life to match your passion, so go for it!

Who were your mentors?

Parents, coaches, pastors, certain preceptors, instructors, practicing pharmacists, and good friends. All the people who you closely interact with throughout your life have a profound impact on molding your personal character even though you might not realize it all the time.

What do you remember about your hooding ceremony?

I don’t remember, but it was 40 years ago!

Other comments…

As I begin to consider retirement, I know it will be bittersweet when the time comes. Pharmacy has been very good to me, and I feel good about my contributions. But we all have to pass the torch at some point. The students who have come through my classes have all contributed to this old pharmacist’s positive memories, and I thank you all for that.

 

Dr. Rusty May

“I would not trade this job for any other occupation in the world.” 

What does it mean to be selected as a hooder by the students?

Being selected as a graduation hooder by the students is a true honor. I have not stopped smiling since I learned that I was selected. Having the students choose me lets me know that they appreciate how much I enjoy teaching them all the components of drug information provision in my P1, P2, and P3 courses. These courses cover material that the students will use during their entire careers. I believe they sense my enthusiasm for these courses and the opportunity to work with such outstanding students. When I step into the classroom on any of our campuses, the students make me smile. They are the reason why I love coming to work every day.

What do you enjoy most about being Pharmacy teacher/professor?

Watching the students’ growth during the four years they are with us is just amazing. I think the students quickly learn how much I enjoy classroom teaching. My courses give students knowledge and skills that will make their jobs more fulfilling by helping them answer patients’ and other healthcare providers’ questions in an evidence-based manner. The ability of our students to apply these topics during third-year clinical seminar, when they are writing/editing club newsletters, and during the fourth year APPEs is so rewarding to watch. Also, being around other faculty at the College who are so dedicated to student success is a joy. These are not just colleagues but friends. I would not trade this job for any other occupation in the world.

What words of advice would you offer members of the Class of 2022?

Enjoy going to work every day. You are providing such a valuable service to patients’ health care.  Do not underestimate the contributions you can make to patients’ lives. At times, it can be stressful. Healthcare is a demanding profession. So, be sure to find time to take care of yourself.  Quality time with family and friends is invaluable. Also remember that you will need to be a life-long learner. This actually makes the job even better. You’ll never be bored!

Who were your mentors?

Dr. Paul Parker, my residency director, was a major mentor for me. Taking time to watch out for me during and after the completion of my residency program greatly added to my career direction. In fact, he was the person who pointed out the job opening in Augusta with the Medical College of Georgia and the UGA College of Pharmacy. I am so glad I followed his advice on that one!! Our former Associate Dean, George Francisco, influenced me on the importance of seeing things from the students’ perspective. This has made me a better teacher.  A former professor of mine at the University of Kentucky and current fishing buddy, Dr. Ken Record, demonstrated to me the value of always letting the students know why what you were teaching is important.  He also was a great role model for exhibiting enthusiasm in the classroom. Finally, a classmate might actually become a mentor for you. Dr. Joe DiPiro, a classmate of mine, taught me how to be more disciplined with writing, something that has helped me greatly throughout my career. And there have been others. Mentors are so valuable.  Seek out mentors you respect who truly care for you. I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had without my mentors.

What do you remember about your hooding ceremony?

I remember thinking, “Wow!  I can’t believe I survived this program!”  But I loved every minute of it.

Other comments?

Thanks so much, folks!  Very proud for you!

 

Dr. Brian Seagraves 

“Always complete the mission. In all that you do, do it with everything you have. Be a solid and unwavering zealot for your patients.”

What does it mean to be selected as a hooder by the students?

During my career, I have been fortunate to receive many accolades. However, being selected by the graduating PharmD Class of 2022 as a hooder far outweighs – and is more prestigious – than all of those other awards. Students graduating with a PharmD is a culmination of all of their hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. Being a faculty member who places the hood upon them and calling them “doctor” is a humbling and bittersweet moment. It is a way of passing on the torch for the profession. I consider myself lucky.

What do you enjoy most about being Pharmacy teacher/professor?
I am fortunate to be a part of teaching and molding new pharmacists. Seeing them learn and grow during their four years in our program is a phenomenal experience for me. There are so many enjoyable moments about teaching these young people. My favorite moments are the ones that I call the “eureka moments” – that’s when the student “gets it” and everything makes sense. I see lots of those.

What words of advice would you offer members of the Class of 2022?

Pharmacy is an amazing career, and I know you’ll squeeze everything you can out of it. But I’d be remiss if I said it was all roses and sunshine. There will be times that aren’t so great. As long as you do your best, those down times will pass. Keep your head up and solider through. Always complete the mission. In all that you do, do it with everything you have. Be a solid and unwavering zealot for your patients.

Who were your mentors?

As a student I had many – Dr. Henry Cobb, Dr. Bill Spruill, Dr. Bill Wade, Dr. Warren Beach, Dr. Matt Perri, Dr. Ken Duke, Dr. Lori Duke, and Dr. Randy Tackett. I loved many elements of their teaching styles and have incorporated those elements into my own. As a faculty member – Dr. Randy Tackett, Dr. Keith Herist, Dr. Matt Perri, Dr. Ken Duke, Dr. Cathy White, and Dr. Trisha Branan. Their guidance has been paramount!

What do you remember about your hooding ceremony?

We held graduation on the volleyball court at the Ramsey Center. Consequently, the volleyball court was right next to the swimming pool. So, the heat and humidity coupled with the regalia was stifling. However, that all faded away the moment Dr. Cobb hooded me, gave me the thumbs up and said, “Dr. Seagraves, doing a fine job. Keep hammering down.”

Other comments?

This is a bitter-sweet moment for me. I hate to see you go, students, but I’m excited to see all that you will accomplish in your career. Besides, it’s time for you to leave the nest and fly high. You have all the skills and knowledge you require to start your next adventure. Never give up learning. An intelligent person is one who realizes that he/she doesn’t know everything and tries to learn something new each day. This will keep you humble. This will keep you fresh. This will keep you happy.

 

Dr. Susan Smith

“Whatever your next step is – you’ve got this! And you will always have your UGA Pharmily to encourage you along the way.”

What does it mean to be selected as a hooder by the students?

I cannot think of any greater honor than being selected by students to share in arguably the most significant moment of their pharmacy school journey. This is truly such a special recognition. I am so proud of the Class of 2022, and I am excited to play a part in your graduation and to witness all of your individual accomplishments in the years to come!

What do you enjoy most about being Pharmacy teacher/professor?

My favorite part about being a Pharmacy professor is seeing students succeed. This success takes many forms – seeing a challenging concept “click” after explaining it in the classroom, watching a student accept an award after months of dedication on a research project, or hearing that they landed their dream job or matched with their top residency program. Knowing that I have played a small role in these achievements is the most rewarding part of my job!

What words of advice would you offer members of the Class of 2022?

To the Class of 2022 – you did it! You have proven to yourself and the world that “you can do hard things.” No matter what challenging patient, clinical scenario, or work expectations you face, you have the pharmaceutical knowledge and skills to be a trusted and caring advocate for your patients. Whatever your next step is – you’ve got this! And you will always have your UGA Pharmily to encourage you along the way.

Who were your mentors? 

I cannot stress enough on the important role mentorship has had in my career! I have had numerous mentors throughout pharmacy school and today, and they have each impacted my career and my life in different ways. I attended pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee, and my most significant mentors during this time were Dr. Stephanie Phelps, who also was my APhA-ASP advisor, and Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns (a UGA alum!). They (and other faculty) had a tremendous impact on my decision to pursue a career in academia; I most certainly would not be here today without them.

What do you remember about your hooding ceremony?

One of the most memorable parts of my hooding ceremony was having Dr. Jim Eoff, Dean of Student Affairs, play the organ for the processional! Dr. Eoff was on faculty at the University of Tennessee for more than 45 years and retired the year of my graduation. This was such a special memory!

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