PALMETTO -- In the 2006 Lakewood Ranch High School Yearbook, Amy Blanchette remembers a prediction made by father, Michael Blanchette, a nursing practitioner in the heart failure clinic at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
"Dad said for my yearbook: 'You love science and math. You will attend Manatee Community College and the University of Florida and will one day become a pharmacist," Amy Blanchette recalled Sunday.
Dad was right.
Blanchette, 26, with her proud family looking on Sunday, became the first doctor in her family and one of 120 Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy graduates during the seventh commencement at the Bradenton campus. The commencement included 155 College of Medicine graduates at the Bradenton Area Convention Center before a crowd estimated at 3,000 in Palmetto.
Amy Blanchette didn't follow the exact path her father predicted.
Blanchette attended Florida State University rather than UF and decided there to dive into pharmacy. Blanchette shadowed a pharmacist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and
found it wasn't for her. An organic chemistry course at FSU changed her destiny.
"I loved it," said Blanchette, the baby of her family with siblings, Rebecca, 34, and Gregory, 32. "A lot of students would think I am crazy. But there is something about how molecules interact that I find fascinating."
Blanchette, who couldn't stop smiling Sunday, will begin putting the results of molecular interactions into little white bottles at a Bradenton-area Publix Supermarket within a few days.
"I'm staying local," Blanchette said with a big grin. "I'll be a Publix pharmacist with the title "Pharm 'D' after my title. The 'D' means doctor."
Blanchette's large family, including fiance, Eddie Delosh, also a Lakewood Ranch High graduate, were rooting for her Sunday.
Besides Blanchette, the LECOM School of Pharmacy graduated six other locals, including Stephen Tucker, Erik Novak and Matthew George of Bradenton, Richard Horn and Michael Puccio of Sarasota and Carolyn Bachus of Venice.
LECOM's College of Medicine had four local graduates -- Kathryn Brennick and Megan Heidemann of Bradenton, Michael Renda of Sarasota and Krzysztof Michalczuk of Venice.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.