First pharmacists to graduate in Hawaiʻi gear up for commencement

May 13, 2011

The first student to receive her doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo was chosen by her peers because of her endurance in the face of adversity, but also because she is an inspiration.

Tehane Ornellas from Kula, Maui, will be the first of 80 PharmD students from the College of Pharmacy to receive the ceremonial hood at commencement events May 14 at Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium.

A cancer survivor, Ornellas completed the rigorous four-year professional program despite having to undergo several bouts of chemotherapy. Class president Jessica Toyama said Ornellas is an inspiration to her classmates.

“We all recognized that walking on stage to receive the first diploma was going to go down in history, so we had a vote who we thought should go first,” Toyama said. “I’m so happy Tehane received the most nominations because it’s a way for us to recognize her contribution to our class as a whole.”

The honor was announced Thursday, May 12, at a graduation luncheon at Hilo Yacht Club. The event kicked off a three-day celebration of the inaugural class graduating from the only college of pharmacy in the Pacific region.

Also announced at the event was a gift of $20,000 annually to the College of Pharmacy building fund from Mina Pharmacy owner Hany Guirguis, RpH, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, PhD.

“We like having a school of pharmacy in Hawaiʻi so I am committed to trying to help the community and help the students,” he said.

The class also honored Judith Fox-Goldstein for her work helping the College and for her gift, which was in honor of her late son, Daniel Fox.

Other awards announced were:

Cherie Chu, from Kaneohe, Oʻahu, was given the Mylan Excellene in Pharmacy Award for academic achievement, professional motivation and a demonstrated ability to communicate drug information.

Jill Gelviro, from Virgina, was presented with the United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award. This award is given to a student who has demonstrated the development and implementation of programs that advance the goals stated in “Healthy People 2010” and who participates in programs that support the philosophy and goals of the U.S. Public Health Service.

See more news from 2011.