Orientation 2021: Harvard Chan School welcomes students back to campus

A trio of new students posed in the Kresge building
A trio of new students posed in the Kresge building

August 24, 2021—The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health community welcomed new students on August 23, kicking off a week of both in-person and virtual activities. Orientation includes opportunities for students to learn about their academic programs, engage with faculty, and meet their peers.

In her welcome address, Dean Michelle Williams called the new students “a class like no other.” She noted that they were selected from a record number of applicants, but what truly sets them apart, she said, is that “by joining our community, you’ve chosen to run toward some of the greatest threats we face in today’s world.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the other crises facing the world, she said. “But it hasn’t deterred you. Instead, it’s motivated you. And that’s what makes your class truly remarkable.”

Checking in at Kresge Cafeteria
Checking in
Students check in at orientation
A student picks up a tote bag, one of the pieces of new swag on offer

Williams advised students to get to know their peers, challenge themselves to seek out diverse perspectives, and to never lose sight of the need to take care of themselves and their loved ones. And before conceiving of solutions to the world’s problems, she advised following the words of Toni Morrison and taking the time to “dream the world as it ought to be.”

students talk and review orientation materials
Students get acquainted and review orientation materials

On Monday, students also participated in a live final virtual session of the Foundations of Public Health course. Students had worked through additional recorded modules of the popular course, taught by Sue Goldie, Roger Irving Lee Professor of Public Health, prior to orientation.

Continuing students who started their programs last year when classes were remote will be welcomed to campus on Friday.

Amy Roeder

Photos: Kent Dayton