News Release

2016 U-M School of Public Health graduation

May 2, 2016, release from the University of Michigan School of Public Health

ANN ARBOR – Rain could not dampen the celebratory spirit of graduates and their families at the University of Michigan School of Public Health's graduation ceremonies, April 28, 2016. Inside U-M's historic Hill Auditorium, the atmosphere was energized and bright as faculty and Class of 2016 graduates processed into the hall.

"This is my favorite time of year," said one faculty member. "We don't take the opportunity to applaud our students often enough, to step back and take stock of just how capable and committed they are."
Speakers repeatedly reminded the graduates that they are positioned to do a world of good at a time when there is so much that needs to be done to improve the public's health.

"I know of not greater calling than bettering the health and well-being of your fellow human beings," said Dean Martin Philbert who presided at the ceremony. Provost Martha Pollack was among the honored guests who offered congratulations.
Friends and family from near and far filled the auditorium to applaud the achievements of the 367 graduating students, who hail from 16 countries and 112 undergraduate colleges and universities.

Remarks on behalf of the students

Munmun Kahn, a graduating MPH student from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, addressed her fellow members of the class of 2016, their families, guests, and professors on stage. " In order to do a world of good, we must center the good within us for the work that we want to do. We must ensure that the impact we wish to have, matches the values we have in ourselves," said Kahn.

Grace Noppert, a graduating PhD student from the Department of Epidemiology, addressed the family and friends of her classmates, saying, "Today is the day you get to stop wondering when we will ever be done. Many of you probably feel like you are earning this degree by proxy. We thank you for reminding us that some dreams are worth spending years working toward."

Turning to her fellow classmates, she suggested looking beyond the data to the underlying causes: "Our job as scientists is not to have all the answers. Our job, first and foremost is to listen--to listen to the story that the data are trying to tell, and to do our best to help that message come out."


A longstanding tradition at graduation is the presentation of the Excellence in Teaching Award, given this year to Dr. Ananda Sen, a research professor in biostatistics and also in the Medical School's department of Family Medicine.

Liz Mosley, a doctoral candidate in Health Behavior and Health Education, received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award.

Address by Shamsia Ramadhan

In her address to the graduating students, Shamsia Ramadhan shared several personal experiences and lessons as a peace practitioner who works with communities in conflict to promote peace and social cohesion. Her stories from Egypt, Nigeria, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya provided the basis for five lessons she offered to the graduating class:

"The truth is that our world is broken. Diseases, conflicts, and climate change are factors that contribute to the broken world; the poor are more likely to suffer chronic health problems and fall into financial hardships due to health costs, and they are less likely to have access to healthy food and health care.

My plea to you, graduates, is don't fit in, don't get by, don't stand by. Fix it! If one person is broken, then we are all broken. Focus on our common humanity and care for others as you would like to be cared for."

New starts

Marianne Udow-Phillips, a graduate and chair of the School of Public Health Dean's Advisory Board, offered congratulations. She reminded her newly-minted alumni colleagues of the importance of staying connected to the network of 15,000 U-M School of Public graduates, and of giving back to their alma mater.

Dean Philbert concluded the ceremony saying, "I look forward to learning how you will contribute to a world of good; how you will help to repair the world."

The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club took the stage to perform "The University" (Michigan Song). The ceremony concluded when University Organist James Kibbie stepped to the famed E. M. Skinner organ to offer Symphony V, Charles-Marie Wider, as the faculty and students recessed from the auditorium.

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