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Third class graduates from South College School of Pharmacy

June 17, 2016

During the South College School of Pharmacy graduation on Friday, June 17, Jonathan Zierden took the stage at the Tennessee Theatre in two different ways.

The first was to accept his degree from the institution, and the second was to return to his first love of musical theater as he performed “This is the Moment” from the musical, Jekyll & Hyde.

“The lyrics were very appropriate for graduation day,” Zierden said. “The song talks about the moment when everything the performer has been working towards comes together, and that is exactly where my classmates and I were during the graduation ceremony.”

Zierden, a tenor, trained and worked in musical theater for eight years before deciding on a career in the medical field after getting married and having four children. He believes there are more similarities than differences between theater and pharmacy when closely examined.

“The differences are obvious,” he said. “Theater focuses on imagination while pharmacy deals with reality, but both focus on interacting with people. The communication skills I learned through acting have proven invaluable to my career as a pharmacist.”

Friday’s class was the third and largest to graduate from the South College School of Pharmacy. Zierden is one of 77 student pharmacists set to receive their degrees.

Hallerin Hilton Hill, a radio and television talk show host, delivered the commencement address. A Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter for Whitney Houston, Take 6 and Bishop T.D. Jakes, Hill travels the country speaking to businesses and organizations to spread his message of positivity.

He shared the ABCs of his value system, with examples from all 26 letters of the alphabet, to challenge students to write their future and then share their dreams with younger generations.

“For C, life takes courage,” Hill said. “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the commitment to not be paralyzed by fear. We must live our dreams so that those that come behind us can live theirs.”

Zierden plans to stay in Tennessee after graduation.

“One of the reasons I chose South College was because we have extended family here,” he said. “After spending the last three years as part of the accelerated pharmacy program, we’ve really put down roots in Knoxville, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

About South College

South College is a private institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer programs at the doctorate, masters, baccalaureate, and associate levels. To learn more about South College, visit