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"A world of work awaits you," Dr. Kellermann tells U-M SPH class of 2012.
ANN ARBOR-- Like bright sunbeams on a brisk spring day, new alumni of the University of Michigan School of Public Health triumphantly marched across the stage of U-M's historic Hill Auditorium on April 26, 2012. One student carried a video camera on the journey to document the moment she became "a master."
Speakers at the ceremony repeatedly reminded new SPH graduates that the U.S. health care system and populations worldwide suffer from sobering problems, but that as public professionals they now have the skills to help find solutions.
"Indeed, innovation is a hallmark of this institution, and a primary focus of our efforts here today," said U-M SPH Dean Martin Philbert. He presided at the ceremony, which was attended by U-M Provost Phil Hanlon. Friends and family traveled from near and far to applaud the achievements of the 359 graduating students, who hail from 16 countries and 156 undergraduate institutions in the United States.
Remarks on Behalf of the Students
Michael Rubyan, a graduating M.P.H. student from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, addressed his fellow members of the class of 2012, their families, guests, and professors on stage. "Today, we leave with an important charge – to develop innovative strategies, and also to be the next generation of communicators," he said.
Laughter greeted his observation that: "I think it’s safe to say that by now we are all professional group project collaborators."
Most of his address was serious, however, with reminders to take action on major problems. "We can empower people to become active stakeholders to improve their own health, and the health of their village, town, city, state, or nation," Rubyan told classmates.
"We will be there preventing disease, promoting the health of all people, and repairing the world so that it is a place that we can proudly say is healthier for our children and our children’s children."
Faculty, Staff, & Alumni Honorees
Staff, faculty, and alumni recipients of the school’s annual awards were announced at the ceremony:
Address by Dr. Arthur Kellermann
U-M SPH's main speaker for graduation 2012 was RAND Health Vice-President and Director Arthur Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H. He began with a somber exploration of problems plaguing the U.S., such as high infant mortality and the still rising $2.6 trillion in annual health care expenditures, which are "wiping out the American dream."
He lamented the discrimination in access to care, and said that a person's "chance to live a long and healthy life still depends more on their zip code than their genetic code."
Fixing this is "your job, and your opportunity," he said to the class of 2012. "But before you slip out discouraged and enroll in business school," he reminded students that they have the answers to public health's problems. In the fight to build support for prevention, he said, "the public will be on your side... along with employers scared to death of the rising cost of health insurance.
"Get a good night's sleep," he concluded, "because tomorrow a world of work awaits." Listen to Dr. Kellermann's inspiring talk on YouTube.
Closing Remarks, New Starts
After the presentation of degrees to graduates, Dean Philbert invited guests to the reception on Ingalls Mall near Burton Tower, at which all the plates, cups, napkins, etc. "are made with 100-percent compostable materials." The announcement was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
"The challenges you will confront in this volatile, uncertain, and complex world will define your personal and professional worlds," he concluded. "But because of who you are and what you are capable of doing—and because of your collective power to innovate—I look forward to the future with an uncompromised optimism."
And on their way to the reception, a few students, staffers, and associate deans(!) celebrated the moment:
The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been promoting health and preventing disease since 1941, and is ranked among the top public health schools in the nation. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, our faculty, students, and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health. http://www.sph.umich.edu/
Contact: Mary Beth Lewis or Terri Mellow
Photos by Peter Smith. See larger versions of these and more on SPH's Flickr stream.