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Learning, collaboration and engagement are essential, CDC chief tells EPH grads

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2007 - Autumn


In an increasingly interconnected world, public health networks are vitally important, Commencement speaker Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H., told public health students during Commencement ceremonies in Battell Chapel on May 28.

Gerberding, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), described four qualities that will foster these networks. She said that in order to answer urgent questions, men and women in the field of public health will need the “fast science” that can result from integrated scientific platforms and collaborations. Public health professionals should share ideas across disciplines to create a marketplace of ideas. “We must talk not just to each other,” she said, adding that public health practitioners need to engage people at all levels of society. “We’re used to doing everything from the top down,” said Gerberding. “That isn’t going to work anymore.” Finally, CDC’s core values of respect, integrity and accountability should be incorporated into the work of public health at all levels.

Gerberding told the 119 graduating master’s-degree candidates, faculty and guests that she believes that “every life is equally valuable” and that we should continue to learn every day. “You have a privilege,” she said. “You have graduated from a university that will open doors for you.”

Officiating at his first Yale graduation, Dean Paul D. Cleary, Ph.D., presented the 2007 Award for Excellence in Teaching to Robert Dubrow, Ph.D., M.D., associate professor of epidemiology and public health. Dubrow said that any celebration of public health in 2007 “must be tempered by the catastrophe of the war in Iraq,” which “represents a public health disaster on many levels.” Peace, Dubrow said, is an essential condition for human well-being.

Student speaker Lubna Tanveer Shamsi, M.P.H. ’07, spoke with gratitude of the public health initiative of a classmate, Anant C. Shah, M.P.H. ’07, who petitioned the city for improved pedestrian safety after Shamsi was struck by a car near campus.

Prizes awarded to graduating students included the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding M.P.H. Thesis, to Martin Anderson, Anne Reiner and David Thomas; the Henry J. (Sam) Chauncey Jr. Inspiration Award, to Seamus Collins; and the Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed Award, to René Herbert.

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