May 15 2018

Celebrating Commencement

Members of the Mailman School Class of 2018 march in cap and gown today

Today, the Mailman School Class of 2018 celebrates Commencement. Cheered by family, friends, professors, and other well-wishers, graduates will march in cap and gown, with degrees awarded to more than 600 Masters and 40 doctoral students.

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, will give the keynote address and receive the Dean’s Visionary Leadership Award. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has supported the immunization of more than 640 million children in low-income countries and, as a result, prevented more than 9 million deaths.

Essie Essamba Quakyi, an MPH graduate in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, will represent her class with a speech on the altruistic spirit of public health and importance of being fearless to ensure the health and human rights of others. Quakyi was chosen by a committee of students, faculty, and staff.

At a morning ceremony, Deans Julie Kornfeld and Linda Cushman presented Celia Anne Wright, MPH in Health Policy and Management, with the Bernard Challenor Spirit Prize for “building community, across department boundaries at the Mailman School,” and Chelsea Samone Wynn, MPH in Sociomedical Sciences, with the Campbell Award for “exceptional leadership and Columbia Spirit.” An additional 34 individuals received awards in 26 categories.

Members of the Class of 2018 have already secured prestigious positions that represent the breadth of public health—at among others, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, New York City Department of Health, Partners in Health, Pfizer, Population Council, IQVIA, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Merck, Planned Parenthood, and many others. Several students were awarded nationally-competitive grants and fellowships, such as a Fulbright Research Award, Hospital Administration Fellowships, ASPPH Fellowships, Presidential Management Fellowship, and the Epidemic Intelligence Service Fellowship.

Another auspicious sign: demand for public health and healthcare professionals is red hot. Among the Class of 2017, 96 percent were working in the field or in graduate school, and only 2 percent were job seeking, by the December after graduation.

Follow the day’s festivities on the School’s social media accounts, including InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. Students and others are encouraged to contribute on their accounts using one or more of the hashtags #CUpublichealth, #Commencement2018, #MailmanGrad, #MadeItAtMailman, and #ColumbiaCommencement.

Watch video of Commencement here: