The public health field is primed for innovation and entrepreneurship, but the upcoming generation of public health leaders must first have “the courage to create and do.”
That was the message Andre Blackman, CEO of the innovation consultancy Pulse + Signal and alumnus of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, emphasized to nearly 500 public health graduates at the school’s Spring 2016 commencement ceremony on May 19.
“With the tools we have access to today and armed with the public health education you’ve received here, the playing field is wide open for you to become a changemaker, an innovator and a health maker,” Mr. Blackman told the Spring 2016 graduating class of the UMD School of Public Health. “Challenge yourself to take on the creator mind. Someone who holds doing and creating in high regard.”
Mr. Blackman is a strategic communications and engagement professional with deep ties to the public health, healthcare, technology and social media landscapes. He received his degree in Community Health from the UMD School of Public Health (then called the College of Health and Human Performance) in 2005, and sits on the board of South by Southwest Interactive, the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media and the Center for Health, Media & Policy.
This is how innovation & entrepreneurship happens, Mr. Blackman said in his address: You see a need, feel compelled to apply your unique perspective, and get to work on putting that solution into the world.
“Especially in health, it’s so important to make sure we are solving actual pain points,” Mr. Blackman said. “In public health, we’re aiming our collective intelligence and resources at building sustainable solutions for communities. How can we do that effectively if we’re not paying attention to what is ailing those in our communities?”
The UMD School of Public Health graduated 489 students in the Xfinity Center on May 19, receiving 12 doctorates, 44 masters, and 433 bachelors degrees. A total of 57 students graduated with honors, and nine students and four faculty members were inducted into Delta Omega, the honorary society in public health.
The commencement ceremony included a student address by Ms. Emily Bjanes, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Ms. Bjanes served as the undergraduate representative on the School of Public Health Dean Search Committee, and recognized by Dean Clark with the 2016 School of Public Health Dean’s Scholar Award. She will pursue a doctorate of physical therapy at the University of Pittsburgh beginning in the summer of 2016.