A new generation of public health professionals, educators, and researchers graduated this past week from the Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health, Oregon’s only urban school of public health and a partnership of two of the state’s leading universities. A total of 457 degrees, including five PhDs, 78 Masters degrees, four Graduate Certificates, and nearly 370 students Bachelor degrees by the School of Public Health (SPH).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, graduation ceremonies at were held virtually. The OHSU Convocation, which recognized SPH Masters, Master Certificates, and Phd graduates, was held on Sunday, June 7. SPH graduate Chelsea Peterson sang the national anthem and Dr. Joan Y. Reede of Harvard Medical School was the keynote speaker. Dr. Reede is Harvard Medical School’s inaugural dean for diversity and community partnership and is known for creating programs that mentor and support minority physicians and female physicians.
A week later, on Sunday, June 14, SPH held a virtual graduation celebration for the entire Class of 2020 as part of the Portland State University Commencement program. Students, their families, and friends were welcomed with remarks from Dr. David Bangsberg, Dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.
“You are joining the field of public health at a very critical time for our city, for Oregon and for our nation,” Bangsberg said to graduates. “Now, more than ever, the world understands that public health matters and that peoples’ lives depend on it.
Bangsberg pointed out that the 2020 graduates will be called up on to solve the problems of tomorrow that we do not even yet know about today. “Today, we need you, our future public health leaders, now more than ever,” he said. “We need public health practitioners, scientists, and educators to move upstream to confront the legacy of these injustices at the population level; address the social determinants of health; reverse the toxic stress of racism and other forms of hatred; take on the issues of mental health, substance abuse, suicide, gender/transgender equity, and more.”
The program also featured keynote speaker Dr. Rachael Banks, Director of Multnomah County’s Public Health Department. As the director of the largest local public health division in the state of Oregon, Banks oversees strategies to protect, assure and promote the health of over 800,000 people across 6 cities, including Portland, and is currently leading the unprecedented public health response to COVID-19.
Dr. Ryan Petteway, DrpH, MPH, Assistant Professor of Health Promotion, read his powerful poem “TOGETHER//Untethered.” In addition, students spoke of their future public health career goals in a series of videos they produced themselves and submitted for the program.
The program closed with congratulations messages from nearly forty faculty and staff from the School, followed by the official conferral of degrees by PSU President Dr. Stephen Percy.
You can watch the program here throughout the month of June.