Katie is one of 43 students entering the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy. And though she did not always know that she wanted to be a pharmacist, she says she found her calling a few years ago.
"I knew i wanted to get into the health profession, not really exactly what I wanted to do. But then I started working in the pharmacy and I really enjoyed it," she explained. "And I realized I wanted to pursue pharmacy school."
And as Katie put on her first white coat this afternoon, she says she realized that all of her hard work and late nights studying paid off.
"It's just a real privilege to be able to wear this and say, you know, that you worked this hard and now you're here. And it's just an amazing feeling. It means a lot to be wearing a white coat. It's an image that I've always wanted to have and now that I'm here, it's great," Katie said.
While students like Katie are excited to finally have their white coats, the meaning behind today's ceremony runs a little deeper.
"The white coat ceremony is here to remind them that they're not only professionals, but healthcare professionals. They're going to be going out in their first and second years before they have any clinical rotations serving in community projects and help council the public. So they really need to start now practicing that mantel of 'I'm a healthcare professional,'" said assistant professor Chris Tawwater.
As the class of 2016 gears up for the first semester, the lessons in the classroom will help the community.
"We still have a national shortage of pharmacists, and health care providers in general. And so having the pharmacy program here helps us sort of fill all the local seats," said Tawwater. "Not just in Abilene, but all the smaller communities surrounding us."