US Surgeon General addresses Michigan Public Health Class of 2023
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy tells graduates: ‘The world needs you more than ever’
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the US Surgeon General, addressed the University of Michigan School of Public Health graduating Class of 2023 during commencement April 27 at Hill Auditorium.
As the vice admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Murthy commands a uniformed service of more than 6,000 public health officers. He shared his experience and lessons he has learned while serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations in the United States.
“Over the last few years of school, you have been through an experience like no other,” Murthy said. “The pandemic forced you to change how you learned, how you engaged with classmates and how you thought about the future. The fact that you navigated so much adversity and uncertainty is a testament to your resilience and determination. I could not be more proud of you.
“I know it might feel like the world you are inheriting is overwhelming, particularly as you are confronted with public health challenges such as violence, climate change, mental illness and health disparities. But each day I travel to communities across our great country, I also see many reasons to be hopeful that we can meet the moment.”
The first surgeon general of Indian descent, Murthy is a renowned physician, research scientist, entrepreneur and author. He envisions a life filled with joy for the Class of 2023.
“The neighbors I encounter who help each other with childcare and with getting to doctor’s appointments remind me that we are still a generous people,” he said. “The nurses and doctors who put themselves in harm’s way to care for patients during the worst moments of the pandemic remind me that we are brave and dedicated people. The students I encounter who are creating programs to address loneliness and support the mental health of their classmates remind me that we are compassionate and dedicated people.
“The challenges we face are real. But never let what is broken about the world blind you to what is beautiful about the world. For all its flaws and imperfections, there is still a lot of good to be found around us if we are willing to look for it—if we are willing to be it.
“As you set out in this new world, here is what I want for you most of all: to live a life of deep fulfillment. The kind of life that will bring you joy, that you will look back on years from now with contentment. The kind of life that will bring out the best in you.”
More than 500 Michigan Public Health graduate candidates received degrees, including 389 graduate degrees, 91 undergraduate degrees and 22 doctoral degrees at the historic auditorium, located on central campus.
All departments and programs at Michigan Public Health, ranked No. 5 by the U.S. News and World Report in its annual list of Best Public Health Schools, were represented at the ceremony, including Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior and Health Education, Nutritional Sciences, Population and Health Sciences, and Undergraduate Education.
Michigan Public Health Dean F. DuBois Bowman said he is inspired by the graduates’ intelligence, drive and passion.
“I am thrilled to join with friends, families and loved ones in celebrating the enormous accomplishments of the Class of 2023,” Bowman said. “It is a constant source of motivation to witness the quality, brilliance and talent of our Michigan Public Health students, especially as so many of you are dedicated to serving your communities and making the world a healthier and better place for everyone.
“This is an enormously important time for public health, and you are taking your next steps into a world with a renewed understanding of and appreciation for our field. The need for emerging public health leaders is abundantly clear, and you are there to answer that call. You now possess the skills and expertise to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
“I know I speak for the entire Michigan Public Health community when I tell you that we are inspired by your intelligence, drive and passion. You are the future of our field, and while the issues we work on can be complex and challenging, I know we are in good hands with you at the helm.”
Student speaker Reem Fawaz, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences, offered words of inspiration as she addressed her peers.
“We are uniquely positioned to positively impact the world not just as professionals in public health but as leaders,” the native of Dearborn, Michigan, said. “Michigan Public Health has equipped us with the tools and network necessary to excel in our fields. Our success beyond graduation will be a result of our shared commitment to public health, and our continued dedication to collaboration, persistence and determination.
“I only encourage you to stay curious, committed to the principles of public health and, most of all, remain passionate.”