UTHSC Graduates 698 Health Care Professionals in May

Rosie Ann Riley (left) will receive her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UT Health Science Center in May, embarking on her third career, while her daughter, Ivy Lace Riley, will graduate Magna Cum Laude in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Jackson State University.
Rosie Ann Riley (left) will receive her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UTHSC in May, embarking on her third career, while her daughter, Ivy Lace Riley, will graduate Magna Cum Laude in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Jackson State University.

Former Marine, UTHSC Pharmacy Student Earns Doctorate Same Month That Daughter Earns Bachelor’s Degree

At ceremonies on May 15, 22 and 29, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will graduate a total of 698 health care professionals.

Six different graduation ceremonies will be hosted by the deans of the six UTHSC colleges. During each of the ceremonies, UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, will confer the degrees and give the charge to the graduates.

The 698 UTHSC graduates, along with their friends and families, will enjoy commencement according to the following schedule.

  • 175 from the College of Pharmacy on Friday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m.
    Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 70 N. Bellevue Boulevard
    Speaker: Joseph T. DiPiro, PharmD, Dean, Professor and Archie O. McCalley
    Chair at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy
  • 116 from the College of Dentistry on Friday, May 22 at 1:30 p.m.
    Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 70 N. Bellevue Boulevard
    Speaker: James “Jay” R. Hight, Jr., DDS, President of the Tennessee Dental Association and UT College of Dentistry alum, will discuss ethical practice decisions.
  • 142 from the College of Health Professions on Friday, May 29 at 9:00 a.m.
    Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, 255 N. Main Street
    Speaker: Diane Wyatt, MS, retired in 2009 from the UTHSC College of Allied Health Sciences, now the College of Health Professions. She worked at UTHSC in various roles for 18 years and spent 43 years total in the medical laboratory science field, providing didactic and clinical training along with leadership and service.
  • 38 from the College of Graduate Health Sciences on Friday, May 29 at 11:00 a.m.
    Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main Street
  • 149 from the College of Medicine on Friday, May 29 at 1:30 p.m.
    Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, 255 N. Main Street
    Speaker: Alvin H. Crawford, MD, FACS, first African-American to graduate from the UT College of Medicine in 1964, he served for 29 years as Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and now holds endowed chairs there in Pediatric Orthopaedics and Spinal Surgery. The Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s was dedicated in his name.
  • 78 from the College of Nursing on Friday, May 29 at 7:00 p.m.
    Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, 255 N. Main Street
    Speaker: Sherry Webb, BSN, MSN, DNSc, nurse for 43 years and Option Coordinator for the MSN-CNL Program at UTHSC (CNL stands for Clinical Nurse Leader)

This year’s graduating class includes 68 African-Americans, 12 Latino-Americans, and 145 graduates who came from out of state to study at UTHSC. In addition, this graduating class comprises 410 women and 288 men. Plus, 26 of the out-of-state dentistry graduates are Arkansans who earned their doctoral degrees from the UT College of Dentistry. Arkansas students come to Tennessee to train as dentists because their state has no dental college.

Among the graduates on May 15 will be Rosie Ann Riley, who will receive a Doctor of Pharmacy degree that paves the way for her third career. Riley, 45, has been a Marine, a professional wallpaper hanger, and now plans to practice as an oncology pharmacist.

Though proud of her previous careers, which helped pay for her education and support her family, Riley sees being a pharmacist as a higher calling. “I have always felt we were put on this earth to serve others, and there is nothing better than teaching others how to take better care of themselves,” she said.

A native of Madison, Mississippi, Riley attended the University of Southern Mississippi, but had to drop out for financial reasons. She then joined the Marines, served in the Persian Gulf War, and left the service in 1992. The military stint helped finance her return to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice in 1995.

By then a single mom, Riley briefly considered joining the FBI, but decided that career choice would take her away from her daughter, Ivy Lace Riley, born in 1992. With connections made through an acquaintance who was a general contractor, she began working as a professional wallpaper hanger. The job paid well and left her time to parent her daughter.

As her daughter grew older and required less care, Riley began thinking about getting an MBA. “The average salary of graduates was less than what I made hanging wallpaper,” she said. “I decided to look into other fields, and pharmacy was one.” She investigated several pharmacy schools, took the prerequisite courses, and began classes at UTHSC in 2010.

“I chose pharmacy because it allows independence and there is constant learning, so you never get bored like I did with hanging wallpaper,” she said.

Riley readily admits it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but she said the administration at UTHSC has been behind her every step of the way.

“I love pharmacy, and I love UT,” she said. “The College of Pharmacy administration and staff were so supportive. I have never had so many people believe in me.”

Riley has been active on campus with the Black Student Association, and in the community with health fairs, the American Heart Association and the National Civil Rights Museum.

In the same month Riley receives her diploma at UTHSC, her daughter will graduate Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Jackson State University.

“I am so proud of both mom and daughter for their great achievements,” said Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, MPH, MBA, FCCP, FASHP, dean of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy. “It is a true testament to their love, strength and intellect. I am both humbled and honored to know them and be part of this special celebration in their lives.”