Pharmacy student dons white coat, grabs onto future

By Jan Jarvis

Mivielis Rivera at White Coat Ceremony


Mivielis Rivera always knew she wanted a career in health care, she just wasn’t sure which area.

When she received her white lab coat on Saturday as a member of the incoming class of the UNT System College of Pharmacy, Rivera had no doubts.

“I stumbled into pharmacy when I was a junior in high school and fell in love with it,” she said. “Once I found it, I grabbed on and didn’t want to let go.”

Rivera is one of 100 incoming College of Pharmacy students who participated in the White Coat Ceremony, a “rite of passage” for students that encourages a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy.

Since the first class started in 2013, the pharmacy school has grown steadily each year. Today, the four-year doctor of pharmacy program has 258 students enrolled in years one through three.

Next year will mark the graduation of the first pharmacy school class. The school is the first based in North Texas and the only one in Texas situated on a health science center campus.

Students who will be among the first to graduate from the pharmacy school give it high marks for the quality of education and opportunities that are provided.

“I have loved it here and a lot of it has to do with the emphasis on interprofessional education,” said Desiree Jurenci, Class of 2017. “I think in the future, pharmacists will be relied on more heavily as part of an interprofessional team, and we are being prepared for that.”

The program exposes students to many opportunities in research, retail and academia as well as in clinics, hospitals and other areas, said Anthony Bray, Class of 2017.

“Everything that is taught here has a purpose,” he said. “All of the things I’ve learned here will make me a much better retail pharmacist.”

For Rivera, UNTHSC was her first and only choice after graduating from UNT. She looks forward to doing research and sees plenty of opportunities ahead.

“I’m very interested in knowing what chemicals do to our bodies,” she said. “How our bodies as humans work amazes me so much.”

She never considered applying anywhere else, even though she knew that the program is in the process of becoming accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The College will not be eligible for full accreditation until after it graduates its first class in spring 2017.

“This is the school for me,” she said. “I’m a very full throttle kind of person, and I’m very proud to be going to school here.”

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