May 28, 2020
To the graduates of the Class of 2020, proud families and friends, eminent guests, valued faculty and staff, the honorable Dean Williams and our distinguished commencement speaker, Dr. Pate:
It is a privilege as the president of the Alumni Association to formally welcome the 2020 graduates of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as new members of the Alumni Association. I congratulate you on your remarkable achievements.
Several years ago, I needed sudden, unexpected, life-changing surgery. When I was discharged from the hospital, the surgeon outlined the new restrictions on my activities. “This is your new normal,” he said. For example: No more downhill skiing. I was a novice skier. I fell down the ski slope, more often than I skied down the slope. No more downhill skiing. That will be easy. There were other restrictions that forced me to change my daily activities that were not so easy. There were exercise classes and sports I had to stop—forever. However, I made the necessary changes and have made a full recovery.
Our world changed dramatically five months ago due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. We all had to face “a new normal.” What you have done these past months is amazing! We admire your adaptability as you quickly mobilized and finished your education virtually. You remained flexible, creative, and used your talents in the global efforts during this pandemic. You demonstrated the knowledge and skills that will serve you well in the evolving field of public health. Throughout all of this, you remained compassionate and showed kindness to many, to people you knew and people you did not know. For this, we are proud of you, as you embody the spirit of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Public health is at the forefront of many vital activities now. Our world needs you! It is my honor to formally welcome you to our Alumni Association. You join a global network of over 14,000 distinguished scientists, practitioners and leaders in public health. You will find mentors, colleagues and peers. I invite you to join our Alumni Association activities, to volunteer for the committees and the council, and help us meet these global public health challenges together.
The world is looking to you for the solutions, as we all face “the new normal” together. Congratulations!