MCPHS Paints the Town Red at the All-Class Reunion & Bicentennial CelebrationBy Dana Barbuto & Jennifer Persons
Thousands of alumni returned to Boston for a weekend of camaraderie, connection, and community.
When David Epstein collected his diploma from the School of Pharmacy in 1952, he was just 20 years old, the youngest graduate in his class.
Fast forward seven decades, and Epstein—at age 92—was the oldest of about 3,000 alumni, faculty, and guests at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) All Class Reunion & Bicentennial Celebration, where he was recognized as a "Golden Graduate."
“It’s nice to be part of this momentous occasion,” Epstein said, showing off a sticker on his lapel that said “70th.” “Not too many people have this one,” he said, laughing.
The reunion, held Saturday, Oct. 28, was the biggest post-graduate gathering in the University’s 200-year history. The event marked the first in-person reunion in six years. Organized by the University Advancement team, the celebration extended across two Boston hotels—Fairmont Copley and Westin Copley Place—to accommodate the unprecedented response to the event.
A Family Affair
Alumni, like the four Yered brothers—Joe, ’70, James, ’78, Louis, ’81, and Paul, ’90—were excited to reconnect with peers and mentors and celebrate the promising future of the University. Standing outside the grand ballroom at the Fairmont, the siblings took a family photo at the 360-degree selfie station before heading into the party.
The Yereds flew in from California to attend the reunion. “We don’t often get the chance to be together like this,” Paul said. “I’m grateful to see old classmates and to be here on a weekend away with my brothers.”
“We owe so much to this school,” James said. “We’d all be struggling jazz musicians if we didn’t come here. We got a great education, and the faculty was always there for us.”
The evening’s theme was “Reconnect, Reflect, Celebrate,” and alumni from eight different decades—as far back as the class of 1952—turned out to paint the town red. MCPHS-themed cocktails to mark the occasion included The Esther, named for renowned Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene alumnae Esther Wilkins, and The Cardinal Cosmo, after the University’s mascot.
At the Westin Copley Place, Rosalyn Tokarz, PharmD ’11, and her brother Michael, ’15, felt a warm welcome from their alma mater and classmates. Rosalyn said she chose MCPHS because she wanted to be a pharmacist and study at a smaller school with a tight-knit community.
The reunion rekindled that camaraderie. “It’s been nice to see some familiar faces and reconnect with people I haven’t seen in 10 years,” she said. Michael Tokarz followed his sister to MCPHS and earned his Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy in 2015. “The best part about MCPHS was making friends I still have. I also work with a few classmates, so those connections I made at MCPHS have lasted throughout my life.”
'MCPHS Has Given Me So Much'
Back at the Fairmont, Anastasiya Sattar, ’06, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, was all smiles as she walked into the grand ballroom, which was full of laughter and old friends greeting each other with handshakes and hugs. “Wow, I can’t believe I am part of this,” Sattar said, scanning the room. “When we get the chance to have fun, we go for it.”
Standing nearby, School of Pharmacy alum Patrick Contrado proudly donned a homemade “Class of 77” T-shirt over a white button-down dress shirt and black bowtie. It’s the same shirt he wore to his graduation 46 years ago. “I wash it, put it in a plastic bag, and then take it out only for the reunions,” Contrado said.
As Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” played over the speakers in the New England School of Acupuncture room, Jasmin Movassaghi said she’s “never seen so many acupuncturists in one place.”
Movassaghi, a 2023 graduate, is only a few months out but said she still wanted to attend the celebration. "We didn't get the chance to have a lot of gatherings because of COVID,” she said. “Many of my classmates are here, and it’s great to reconnect.”
Stacey Kelland, a 2014 School of Nursing graduate and former adjunct instructor, drove from Long Island for the night to celebrate with her former classmates and to network with other nurses. “I wanted to come back to honor my alma mater,” Kelland said. “MCPHS has given me so much.”
While listening to a performance by the live band over at the Westin, Kimberly Urato, DPT ’14, a member of the first graduating class of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at MCPHS Worcester, said the MCPHS community is strong.
“I’ve been very much in touch with the University since graduating,” Urato said. “I’m a proud alum, and I thought it would be nice to come out and celebrate how much the program has grown.”
Enjoying cocktails with colleagues who became close friends, Margaret Maclerio, PA-C, BS Premedical Health Studies, ’16, said she was eager to connect with fellow alums. “It’s also great to talk to people who graduated before me,” she said. “We all have similar experiences no matter when we graduated, where we came from, or where we are now.”
A Proper Send-Off
For students who graduated in 2020 and never had an in-person commencement because of the pandemic, the reunion was an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments properly.
“I was in the middle of my clinical rotations,” said Lauren Diaferio, OD ’20, BS ’17. “We had to do them online, but it was still a good experience because our professors made sure we were ready to graduate.”
Diaferio was also celebrating her family’s long legacy with MCPHS. Her father and her brother are pharmacy alumni.
“I missed out on the 2020 graduation, so tonight is the closure I never got. It feels great.”
As the party was just getting started, “Golden Grads” Gail Bucher, ’63, a longstanding trustee of the University, and John Nazzaro, ’67, both School of Pharmacy alumnus, reminisced with Epstein, soaking in the heartwarming nostalgia of the evening.
“This 200th is very special,” Nazzaro said.
It was a weekend for the ages. Celebrate all over again and see more photos from the All Class Reunion & Bicentennial Celebration.