First to do new degree

Bachelor of pharmaceutical science graduands (from left) Baxter Blair, Tom Allat, Angela Ding and...
Bachelor of pharmaceutical science graduands (from left) Baxter Blair, Tom Allat, Angela Ding and Julia Moy will graduate at the Dunedin Town Hall today. Photo: Lisa Reid

Being first in your studies is one thing, but being the first to study and graduate in a new degree is quite another.

Angela Ding, Baxter Blair and Julia Moy will be the first students to graduate from the University of Otago’s bachelor of pharmaceutical science today - the first degree of its kind in New Zealand.

The degree is not just about creating new pharmaceutical formulations and improving present ones, it has teaching applications for the cosmetic, agriculture, construction and even the explosives industry.

Mr Blair said he decided to take on the new degree because it offered a "plethora of career options".

"Drug discovery and development is becoming increasingly advanced, and learning the science behind how the latest drugs, formulations and delivery systems work is incredibly interesting.

"The idea of being part of this huge, global industry in the future is so exciting."

Fellow graduand Miss Ding said she was proud and excited to have reached the milestone.

The degree was well-structured and provided the perfect middle ground for students interested in both research and clinical practice, she said.

School of Pharmacy lecturer Associate Prof Arlene McDowell described the degree as "the science behind medicine".

Today’s graduating students were a "brilliant first" and it was fantastic to know they would be contributing to the health of both local and international communities using the knowledge and skills they had gained at Otago.

"Studying at Otago and within New Zealand, gives our students the opportunity to be more creative and innovative than they might have been elsewhere due to the country’s ‘No 8 wire’ culture.

"The skills they have acquired are invaluable in the development of medicines. I look forward to seeing where they go and having Kiwis sitting at the decision-making tables in healthcare."

The students are among 370 in a variety of degrees to graduate at the Dunedin Town Hall today at 4pm. Another 330 will graduate at 1pm.