ACPHS In The News

Graduates-to-be Dazzle at Pre-Commencement Celebration

Overview shot of Graduate Celebration and Awards Ceremony at Albany Capital Center
May 10, 2024

Research presentations at national conferences and articles in peer-reviewed publications.  

Work that set the foundation to improve Albany’s schools, as well as health access on the ACPHS campus.  

Acceptance into a coveted, competitive eight-year, expenses-paid MD-PhD program.  

Those were among the impressive student – yes, student – accomplishments recited at the 2024 ACPHS Graduation Celebration and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 9. The event honors all students slated to earn their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on Saturday, May 11, and recognizes those who have risen to great heights even among peers with perfect GPAs and lofty post-graduation plans.  

“You’re going to be huge superstars out there,” College President Toyin Tofade told the graduates at the outset of the event, which over the next couple of hours offered plenty of evidence to support her theory.  

In her faculty send-off speech, Dr. Daniele Leonard, a medicinal chemistry instructor who taught most of the graduate candidates in their early years, captured the combination of the event’s serious and fun aspects by quoting both Marie Curie and Dr. Seuss. And a representative of each degree category – bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate – gave student send-offs on behalf of their classes.  

Students spoke about the lessons of being part of a tight-knit, supportive campus and of overcoming the shared experience no one really wanted to dwell on (it had something to do with a pandemic). Bachelor’s candidate Jonathan Braithwaite gave a shout out to the Collaboratory public health resource in speaking of the power of collaboration. Pharmacy doctoral candidate Britney Mbeng implored her classmates to remember the “mountain of people” who supported them, from faculty to family, and the value of working together across disciplines.  

“As one big health-care team, we are greater than the sum of our parts,” Mbeng reminded the students of pharmacy and health sciences programs.  

Master’s Candidate Adrian Belrad, as well as Dean Anuja Ghorpade, who gave closing remarks, spoke about the future – short-term and long.  

“That small step that you take off the stage is a very large leap into the real world,” Dr. Ghorpade said, speaking of the Commencement ceremony that would take place two days later.  

“Remember the journey doesn’t end here,” Belrad said of the students’ lives. “It’s just the beginning of an extraordinary adventure of growth and change.”  

Students received the following awards:

William Mansfield Award – Charles Middleton

American Chemical Society Award – Rachel Leffler

Dr. Joseph Lapetina Award – Natalie Hart

Merck & Company, Inc. Award (Pharmaceutics) – Yue Hu

Merck & Company, Inc. Award (PTPM Cardio and PTPM Psych) – Karol Wroblewski 

APhA-ASP Make Your Mark Award – Elizabeth Gambacorta 

Merck Award for Experiential Education – Leah Debboli 

Viatris Excellence in Pharmacy Award – Megan Szenat 

Dr. Jeffrey Fudin ’81 ’98 Interdisciplinary Award – Victoria Rathwell 

Excellence in Applied Science Research Award – Kaylee Stewart 

Excellence in Basic Science Research Award – Angeleigh Knapp 

BS Community Service Award – Hope Walker 

BS Cultural Awareness Award – Ritanshi Verma  

BS Leadership Award – Jonathan Braithwaite 

MS Excellence in Clinical Practice Award – Virginia Dantis  

MS Excellence in Research Award – Landon Thompson 

Delta Omega Honorary Society – Sophia Braithwaite and Kaylee Stewart