Together, you’ve overcome an unprecedented wave of challenges, despite being apart for more than a year in many unexpected ways. I am both proud and amazed by what you have accomplished—not only over the course of the pandemic, but throughout your entire time at the School of Public Health. Your innovative relentlessness and steadfast commitment are defining marks of a Mountaineer that will serve you well in every aspect of your life, especially as a public health professional.
As you graduate, the entire world now understands the critical role of public health, as the pandemic has amplified one of its core fundamentals: good health is not simply a matter of choice or genetics. Rather, it is impacted by the conditions in which people live, work and play. You have committed to improving those conditions, and for that, I am grateful. You join your fellow WVU Public Health alumni in a profession that believes deeply that good health is not a privilege of the few, but is a basic human right for all people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or country of origin.
Thank you for choosing West Virginia University as the place to shape, define and exemplify your purpose. And to our faculty and staff, the family members and friends of our graduates, and the many partners across our state and beyond: thank you for investing in our students through your guidance, mentorship and support. As author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek asserts, “together, each of us can change our world for the better.” Our graduates are poised to change the world as a result of your willingness to support them along their journey.
Class of 2021, wherever your next step leads, continue following your dreams – never losing sight of the golden rule of life – and follow the path upstream to make your community, state and world a better place.
Congratulations and best wishes.