“You have an amazingly bright future ahead of you. There has never been a more exciting and explosive time to be in the health field.”
[Photo: Student Speaker Ms. Deborah Wu, Keynote Speaker Ms. Joy Bauer (UMD BS ’86), Dean Boris Lushniak]
Ms. Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, health/nutrition expert for NBC’s TODAY show and best-selling author, warmly addressed over 600 graduates at the University of Maryland School of Public Health Spring 2017 commencement ceremony on May 20. Ms. Bauer earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Department of Kinesiology and has been actively engaged with the university as an alumna.
Dean Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH, who presided over his first commencement ceremony since becoming dean in January, offered his praise and congratulations to the graduating class. “We never can predict what the future holds,” he said. “Two years ago I was on this very stage as a commencement speaker. I was humbled at that point, and today I am even more honored and humbled to be celebrating my first class as dean of the School of Public Health.”
In her commencement address, Ms. Joy Bauer offered a kind and optimistic message to the graduates. “I want you all—the gainfully employed, as well as those anxiously looking—to feel the excitement, the hope, the joy of today,” Ms. Bauer said. “I wish I could bottle up all of these amazing emotions because today really is one of the best days of your life…. You are filled with big dreams and even bigger ambitions. Hold on tightly to those dreams and let go of any doubts you may feel because the world is truly your oyster—or as I l like to say, your whole grain avocado toast.”
Ms. Bauer was ebullient about the public health field. “The simple truth is this: Good health is absolutely vital to every age, race, culture, and gender. That being said, my job—your soon-to-be job—OUR job, is THE most important job in the world—and that is incredibly rewarding. We elevate people’s lives in a way no other profession can.”
Ms. Bauer, who is also the founder of Nourish Snacks, a monthly columnist for Woman’s Day magazine, the official nutritionist for the New York City Ballet, and the author of 12 New York Times best-selling books, emphasized having an entrepreneurial spirit and learning from every experience, even if those experiences are not related to your dream job. She also emphasized the critical importance of listening as a key skill for successful public health practitioners. “For change to happen, we have to influence it. To be influential, we have to listen to people… and then, provide realistic and reasonable solutions. The health field will never be a one-size-fits-all plan,” Ms. Bauer said.
The UMD School of Public Health graduated over 600 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students, including 110 recipients of degrees from the rapidly expanding Public Health Science undergraduate program, which was is the newest of the four undergraduate degree programs the school offers (launched in 2014). Also honored were the second and third students ever to graduate from the Master of Public Health in Physical Activity program. Six faculty members, 21 students and one honorary member were inducted into the University of Maryland’s Gamma Zeta chapter of Delta Omega, the honorary society in public health.
The ceremony included a student address by Ms. Deborah Wu, graduating with a dual bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Public Health Science. She is a recipient of the prestigious Banneker Key Scholarship, a merit-based award, and completed her honors citation in the Integrated Life Sciences Honors College program. Ms. Deborah will continue her education at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, pursuing an MPH with the department of health policy and management.
After the ceremony, Dean Lushniak invited graduates and their guests to a reception at the School of Public Health building, where they mingled with faculty and staff and enjoyed light snacks and photo opportunities.