“Break out of your comfort zones. Immerse yourselves in new environments. Get your hands dirty. Talk directly with the people you wish to serve—and listen,” Dean Michelle A. Williams told the 2019 graduates at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Convocation ceremony on May 29. “That will allow you to observe things you’d never see from afar, to understand things you never could from a distance.”
Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and co-founder of the new women’s political action group Supermajority, echoed the theme in her keynote address: “It is just not enough to be public health experts. You need to be advocates and you need to be truth tellers.”
The School’s Convocation ceremony recognized 606 students who officially earned their degrees the next day at the University’s Commencement exercises in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Graduates came from 55 countries and 37 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, and 365 were women.
Student speaker Eric Mooring, who received an SD degree in epidemiology, urged graduates to work together across disciplines and cautioned, “Let’s never forget that people are experts on their own lives, their own communities, and their own values and priorities.”
Alumni Association President M. Rashad Massoud, MPH ’93, a physician and public health specialist, told graduates that while they will face obstacles and disappointments in their career, “Do not let that take you off track or reduce your ambition. Never give up on what you believe in.”