The Rutgers School of Public Health celebrated its 33rd graduating class with 149 graduates across its Master of Public Health, Master of Science, PhD, and post-baccalaureate certificate programs on Friday, May 11. The evening celebrated graduates and venerable guests by demonstrating the social justice ethos that defines the Rutgers School of Public Health and its commitment to “keeping the public in public health.”
Dean Perry N. Halkitis took a moment to focus on “firsts” in his address to graduates and their guests, a nod to his first Convocation Ceremony as the Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health.
His theme addressed the many challenges that individuals must fearlessly face and overcome to achieve, not only their goals, but also social change. From being the first to attend college, to the first person to raise their hand in class, Dr. Halkitis reflected on the many first steps the graduates took to earn their degree and the many more firsts they will encounter as public health leaders, scholars, and activists.
“In this world, at this particular moment, it is more important than ever that we all muster up the courage to fight for what is right, to give a voice to the voiceless, and to challenge the policies and laws which seek to do nothing but oppress and undermine the health of people and populations,” Dean Halkitis said in closing.
The ceremony also honored Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an internationally recognized public health practitioner, activist, and scholar, who was awarded the 2018 Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Award, and delivered the Convocation Address.
Dr. El-Sayed was named the 2018 Lautenberg Award recipient after demonstrating strong public health leadership by championing social justice initiatives and public health reform during his time as the city of Detroit’s health officer. At just 30 years old, Dr. El-Sayed was the youngest ever health officer appointed to any major U.S. city.
Dr. El-Sayed’s address focused on the importance of translating knowledge into action, and called upon graduates to be the change in their newly cemented field. Dr. El-Sayed concluded his address by poignantly stating “never has the work of public health been more important.”
Ms. Chantel Fletcher, MPH graduate, echoed the sentiments of both Dean Halkitis and Dr. El-Sayed in her address to the 33rd graduating class, further articulating the importance of perseverance in the face of hardships.
Like the speakers before her and the graduating class, Ms. Fletcher persevered through challenges to attain her Master of Public Health Degree in Urban Health Administration. She took a moment to thank the audience, which included faculty, staff, family, and friends of the graduating class of 2018, for their unwavering support and guidance.
During the ceremony, fourteen Rutgers School of Public Health Class of 2018 graduates were inducted into Delta Omega, the honor society for public health, including honorary member, Dr. El-Sayed.
Rutgers School of Public Health Class of 2018 Delta Omega Inductees are as follows:
|Allison Sara Gutworth||Samir Sabharwal|
|Ashwin Blake Karanam||Jessica Leigh Staller|
|Elizabeth Anne Krupka||Lisa Kurian Thanjan|
|Mark Anthony Lee||Emily Wang|
|Rachel Elizabeth NeMoyer||Yingfeng Chen|
|Andrew Robert Rava||Peng Zhang|
|Mary Kathleen Riley||Bozena Katic|