The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) celebrated its largest graduating class in 2016, with 220 graduates across Master of Public Health, Master of Science, and PhD programs, as well as two residency programs in Preventive Medicine and Occupational Health. This year also marked the school’s first graduate of its Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program in Community and Behavioral Health.
In his address to the Class of 2016, ColoradoSPH Dean David C. Goff, MD, PhD, talked of the changing world and rising health threats the graduates will face—dangers such as Ebola and Zika, non-communicable diseases, air pollution and climate change, changing politics and power shifts that affect our healthcare system, and ongoing health disparities that continue to shift the burden of disease to socially disadvantaged populations.
Guest speaker Karen McNeil-Miller, President and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation, reminded the 220 public health graduates that while some of them may look internationally to do important public health work in other countries, the majority of them won’t have to look far to make an impact right here in Colorado.
Perhaps the most moving moment of the ceremony was when graduating class speaker, Naveed Heydari, recognized his “school mom” and “school grandma” in a speech he titled “My School Family.” Maria and Doretea are two of the cleaning staff in the education buildings on campus, and had received permission to either begin or end their shifts early that day to be in the front row to celebrate Naveed and the other students they grew to know so well.
When he walked down into the audience to deliver flowers to the two women in the front row the entire auditorium responded with a standing ovation.
During the course of the ceremony, the 2016 University and ColoradoSPH awardees were acknowledged, as well as the inductees into Delta Omega, the honor society for public health.