College of Public Health students – 1,280 of them – were awarded the degrees they had tirelessly worked for yesterday afternoon in a ceremony at the Liacouras Center. (See more photos on our Facebook page.) The class of 2015 was the first to graduate from the new College of Public Health (CPH) since the college changed its name in October 2014.
In her speech, Dean Laura Siminoff touched on the worth of a college degree and the unique position that CPH graduates hold in the world. “Our College of Public Health joins a distinguished and elite group of colleges that offer integrated education for students in the areas of population health,” she said, “and for those health fields that provide care and services that enhance and restore health to individuals, provide rehabilitation to those whose lives have been affected by illness and injuries, and attend to the social and spiritual well being of individuals and families.” (Read Siminoff’s full speech here.)
Siminoff introduced the speaker for the day, Michelle Larkin, who serves as an interim vice president at Robert Wood Johnson. Larkin, who got her start as a bedside nurse caring for patients with leukemia and lymphoma, discussed the healthcare industry’s focus on “cost containment” in the 1990s.
“The national discussion was focused on the wrong thing,” she said passionately. “It should have been focusing on preventing illness and disease, and making sure people got the care they needed. It should have focused on addressing those factors that impact our health like healthy behaviors, healthy environments, education, housing, employment, and the quality of care.”
Larkin called today’s CPH graduates the “agents of change” needed for “bridging professional boundaries and connecting disciplines in new ways to ensure that the factors outside of health care that influence how long and well Americans live – public health, education, housing, employment, income – are woven together.”