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Nearly six thousand viewers have tuned in to watch the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Class of 2020 virtual commencement ceremony, broadcast on June 12.
“What keeps me going, why I refuse to lose hope during this time of so much uncertainty, and challenges, and loss for so many, is our UCLA Fielding School of Public health graduates,” said Dean Ron Brookmeyer. “You, our graduates, can make change. You are proof that our world can and will be better.”
The ceremony for the graduates--226 earning master’s degrees and 26 doctoral students--included a keynote address by La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Tabron, who in 2014 became the first woman and African American to lead the foundation, shared four lessons from the 90-year-old foundation’s grantees: 1) start with community engagement; 2) recognize our shared fate; 3) zip codes should not determine health outcomes; and 4) racial inequality is the root cause of disparities.
“You must be that kind of bold and courageous leader, whether you lead at the local, regional, or national level, you can commit to re-imagining the systems that will advance racial equity and safeguard public health – and then building them,” Tabron said. “You are the essential leader of the future.”
Among those leaders is Eduardo Delgadillo, who graduated with a master of public health degree and delivered the student address during the commencement celebration.
“We can all be confident we’ve made the right choice, confident that our skills and education are in great demand; confident that as public health professionals, our communities look to us for leadership and guidance,” Delgadillo said. “Let us remember to believe in ourselves and our abilities to be public health practitioners and leaders, and to be advocates for unity, humanity, and healing in our communities."
Brookmeyer said it is just that sort of quality among FSPH’s students and alumni that gives him confidence in the future of public health.