Dean Laura Siminoff
CPH Commencement Speech
May 5, 2016
Good afternoon and welcome to the 49th graduation for our College and the second official graduation as the College of Public Health! On behalf of the faculty and staff of the college, I am honored to welcome those gathered here this afternoon including the families and friends of the graduates, our distinguished guests and most of all, those from the 1,388 member graduating Class of 2016, of which 1,020 are in attendance today.
Our college was founded in 1966 and since then, more than 33,000 students have graduated from our various degree programs. We currently have students in 11 different undergraduate and 27 different graduate degrees. This afternoon, we are here to recognize and congratulate each of our graduates for satisfying the demanding requirements of our programs and welcome them to their new roles as alumni of the college.
I would like to take a moment to recognize the leadership of our college seated here on stage, including the members of our senior administrative team and the chairs who lead each of our college’s nine academic areas. I also would like to recognize our program directors, faculty members, advisors and student services staff who support our students to think critically, to act compassionately and develop their potential to be outstanding health practitioners, researchers and educators.
I am honored to be here today as we celebrate an important milestone in the lives of our graduates and their families and also of our college. The class of 2016 is special for many reasons, but they a part of a significant change in the way we educate our students. Our College of Public Health is part of a distinguished and elite group of colleges that offer integrated education for students in the areas of population health 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. It should make all of us extremely proud that our students are focused on professions that represent the highest ideals of service to others.
So today we celebrate the end of one experience and the beginning of new adventures. The fields that most of you have chosen to enter, social work, physical therapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, epidemiology, athletic training and nursing — and this is not an exhaustive list of the professionals we train— are part of the approximately 18% of the US economy devoted to the health sector. The exciting and critical part of what we do at the College of Public Health, is training our graduates who are dedicated and focused on assuring the health, wellness and quality of life of individuals and populations. In the United States, amongst the wealthiest countries in the world, we see that some of our citizens are amongst the healthiest in the world, but others, indeed many who live right here in north Philadelphia, suffer from preventable disease, disability, and premature death. Indeed, Americans suffer from more health issues than people in other high-income countries and our children are 50% more likely than other high income countries to die before their first birthday. I know that many of you will be addressing these issues as clinicians, educators and researchers. I am proud that we, as a faculty, and our students, are dedicated to assuring that all our citizens enjoy optimal health and wellness; that we are focused on reducing health disparities between populations. I am proud that today we are graduating students who will take their place as health and service professionals and that most of our undergraduates will be going on to graduate school or to their first professional jobs.
And so graduates, we applaud your accomplishments and commend you for the perseverance and hard work that allowed you to be here today. We hope that your experiences here have strengthened your sense of purpose and inspired you to continue your quest for knowledge. This is not the end to your education, but an important step forward in your journey, whether you continue your education in a formal academic environment or in the world. Some of you may continue that journey with us in one of our many graduate programs, and we are excited to welcome you into the Temple Public Health family as graduate students. But wherever you go, we hope you will stay in touch and let us know about your challenges and your accomplishments.
Well done, Class of 2016!