On May 1, our graduates joined more than 6,600 alumni who are working in the field of public health all over the world. It was wonderful to be back in person to celebrate our graduates from both the classes of 2020-21 and 2021-22 with speaker Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who received an honorary degree from Pitt Public Health.
Student speaker Monica Henderson (BCHS ’22) thanked the faculty who encouraged her to apply as well as Pitt Public Health and her peers for helping her find her voice, having her back, and making her experiences feel valid.
Henderson left fellow graduates with three pieces of advice:
- Remember that the beauty of public health is collective care. Understand responses outside of your relative experiences to help others achieve optimum health. We are public. We are about something larger than us, one individual, and one solution. We are collective. And we are about health, about life. About care.
- We’re humans before our degree. We’re researchers and practitioners but we’re more than our degrees and our degrees are not a limit. Keep seeking interdisciplinary collaborations, center other people’s voices that may not have your training, and value all types of knowledge. That also means humanizing our efforts. There are lives and stories behind the statistics.
- Breathe. Congratulations to everyone for this achievement. We’re celebrating everyone who's gotten here through difficult circumstances. You’re right on time! No experience is a wasted experience and you define success in your own way. There's no shame in slowing down for a minute to check in with yourself. Let's be gentle with ourselves and with each other.