The University of Maryland School of Public Health held its Spring 2018 commencement ceremony at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center on May 19, graduating 625 students in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. Dean Boris D. Lushniak presided over the ceremony at which Deputy Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams gave the keynote address. Ms. Samiha Ahmed, a double bachelor of science recipient in Public Health Science and Neurobiology and Physiology, was selected to represent the student body as a featured speaker.
In introducing Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent Adams, Dean Lushniak referenced their shared experiences in the Office of the Surgeon General as leaders of the United States Public Health Service. Dr. Lushniak served as the Deputy Surgeon General preceding RADM Trent-Adams. “It is a great honor to have served with someone who has such a breadth of experience and truly understands the front lines of public health and to have her here today as our commencement speaker,” Dr. Lushniak said.
As Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams advises and supports the Surgeon General regarding operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps and in communicating the best available scientific information to advance the health of the nation. She previously served as the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS from November 2013 through May 2016 and in various positions in HHS (health and human services), working to improve access to care for poor and underserved communities, including as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
In her address to graduates, RADM Trent-Adams emphasized the transformative power of public health to change lives, and issued an inspiring call to action to students:
“You are now and forever more – I deem you – public health warriors! The future of the health of our nation and of our global community is in your hands.
As public health professionals, you have the ability to create a system of prevention and education, health and heath care, that will have an opportunity to impact every one of our communities across the United States and throughout the world.
Currently in the United States, we don’t have a health care system, we have a sick care system, we treat chronic illnesses. You are now equipped with the tools to change our culture from one of sick care to one of health. I hope you will get out in front blazing a trail for others to follow. You are by definition game changers by your desire to help others.”
Student speaker Ms. Samiha Ahmed, who spent her four undergraduate years taking credit overloads to earn dual degrees in Public Health Science and Neurobiology and Physiology, and to graduate from the university’s Integrated Life Sciences Honors program, gave a heartfelt address to her fellow graduates. In addition to extensive research experiences, Ms. Ahmed also was involved in many services activities at UMD, including as an Alternative Breaks trip leader, a leader in the Muslim Students Association, and vice president of a local service organization based on campus, Beyond Relief.
Speaking to the audience of graduates, faculty, staff, friends and family, she said,
“With the public health mindset, whether you become a physician, a health administrator, a family counselor, an epidemiologist, or a personal trainer, it becomes a service for the people who have shaped our lives. You do it because you want to give back. You do it because healthcare should not be a privilege. You do it for equity and opportunity. You do it because making a difference in just one person’s life can have infinite value. Most importantly, you do it because you have been blessed with a heart that cares.”
View the photo gallery
Watch the ceremony
Download a PDF of the print program