Annual Graduation Dinner 2015

School of Pharmacy (SOP) celebrates new beginnings

Annual SOP dinner kicks off new opportunities for both students and university.

Approximately 120 faculty, staff and students gathered on Monday, July 6, 2015 at Le Royal Hotel, for the LAU SOP’s annual graduation dinner. After an introductory welcome drink, the event was off to a jubilant and emotional night as students celebrated the culmination of years of pharmacy study and the transition to the next phase of life. In addition to customary congratulatory statements and other ceremonial traditions, the evening was marked by a new sponsorship from the Lebanese American Medical Association (LAMA) and the initiation of the Sara Khatib Inspiration Award. 

Traditionally, the graduation dinner at SOP is planned by the students themselves. “It went extremely well, it was very well attended by both our graduates as well as the school faculty and staff,” says Dr. Imad Btaiche, interim dean of the school.

During the event Btaiche – along with other faculty members – presented awards and certificates of appreciation to distinguished students for various accomplishments. Students also bestowed their own special titles to faculty members.

However, the most notable award at the gathering was the Sara Khatib Inspiration Award, which was founded in memory of pharmacy student Sara Khatib, who passed away last year after battling cancer. Rana Dbeissy became the first ever recipient of the grant and its $1000 prize.

“This year the award was limited to graduating pharmacy students as Sara was supposed to graduate too. Starting next year it’s going to be open to graduating students from all majors, including both [LAU] campuses,” explains Rolla Khatib, Sara’s mother and founder of the award’s endowment. “Sara faced obstacles beyond her age, including cancer, chemotherapy, an amputation and a lot of pain yet she managed to remain positive and continue her life with a smile,” she says.

In honor of Sara’s spirit, the award is given to candidates who demonstrate positivity and academic achievement in spite of major obstacles. Khatib also credits LAU as an important factor in the launch of the award. “We were really very impressed by what LAU did for Sara, we really thank LAU for their love and their support.”

LAU faculty and staff also expressed their gratitude to LAMA, which committed to sponsoring the graduation dinner for a period of four years. Ghandi Fala, associate director of Development at LAU who initially contacted President of LAMA Dr. Firas Harb, says he hopes the sponsorship will lead to valuable opportunities for LAU students.

Indeed, LAMA is a medical and academic training association that serves as a gateway for students and graduates of the Lebanese health care disciplines – pharmacy, medicine and nursing – to the U.S. medical community.

“[LAU] is one of the strongest universities in terms of pharmacy and we have a lot of things in common,” says Nazek Nsouli, LAMA’s student affairs coordinator. “What we’re looking for is a memorandum of understanding whereby all LAU students get exposed to the U.S. pharmaceutical community through LAMA and the programs and services we offer,” she adds.

Btaiche and Harb remain confident in the abilities of the Pharmacy graduates and hope that a partnership between both institutions will benefit not just LAU students but also the country as a whole. “LAMA would be able to help our graduates in achieving their career dreams and practice opportunities by gaining more training at U.S. health care facilities and hopefully return to Lebanon where they can improve the health care system delivery as well as the pharmacy practice.” says Btaiche.


- By Scott Preston