Class of 2022: Largest Class of Students Graduates from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Margaret Hamburg, public health leader, former FDA commissioner, joined Bloomberg School Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, student and faculty speakers, and others at Homewood Field ceremony
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recognized the Class of 2022, the largest class in the School’s history, during its convocation ceremony on Saturday, May 21. The new graduates head out into the world amid a pandemic that has claimed millions of lives globally and put public health center stage as other issues—including climate change, gun violence, substance use disorder, and health inequities—persist.
As of May 25, the Bloomberg School Class of 2022 includes 1,243 graduates representing 65 countries. Of these, 105 earned doctoral degrees, and 1,138 earned master’s degrees.
The event, the School’s first in-person convocation ceremony since 2019, was held at Homewood Field on the Johns Hopkins University campus. Keynote speaker Margaret Hamburg, MD, implored the new graduates not to be discouraged that the public health profession is often at the center of highly charged political discourse. “This may feel like a daunting time for public health,” she observed, reminding graduates that the issues of our time “provide a sharp reminder” of the importance of everyday practice of public health.
Hamburg served as the 21st commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2009 to 2015 and health commissioner for New York City from 1991 to 1997. She currently serves as chair of the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System.
Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM, Dean of the Bloomberg School, acknowledged the extraordinary accomplishments of this year’s class, especially during such challenging times. “I am inspired by your perseverance and your commitment, traits that will serve you so well in the future,” MacKenzie told the crowd gathered at the field and viewing online in real time.
MacKenzie honored Hamburg with the Dean’s Medal, the highest recognition the Bloomberg School confers on public health leaders. Hamburg earned her BA from Harvard College and her MD from Harvard Medical School, and completed her medical residency at Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Medicine. She recently retired as foreign secretary for the National Academy of Medicine.
In her speech, Hamburg addressed attacks against public health in recent years as the pandemic has become a “focal point for anger and distrust.” She emphasized the importance of building trust in times of crisis, recognizing historical obstacles that have sowed distrust and health inequities and disparities among minority communities, which have resulted in “tragically different outcomes” in health.
Hamburg recounted how, while she was on track to become an academic physician, she turned her career to public health to address the unfolding AIDS epidemic. She also described one of her first public health challenges—a major resurgence of tuberculosis while she was serving as New York City’s health commissioner. Hamburg highlighted the importance of having scientific evidence to understand problems and working with courageous leaders to “act on what the science reveals.”
Citing new threats to public health, such as an expected Supreme Court decision that would curtail abortion rights, Hamburg told this year’s class to hold firm. “In this hour of danger and concern, you will not shrink from your responsibility to protect the public’s health and to make our communities and our world better, safer, and healthier,” she said.
In her convocation remarks, Dean MacKenzie recognized the occasion as a time to celebrate, while reminding students that they are living in difficult times. In addition to the ongoing pandemic, MacKenzie pointed to new refugee emergencies around the world; threats to abortion rights in the U.S.; mass shootings, including racially motivated ones; and the battle against racism and injustice in our society.
“You have the power to make a difference even in the hardest times—or, perhaps, especially in the hardest times,” she told the new graduates.
MacKenzie called upon the graduates to make history, citing examples of previous Bloomberg School graduates Wade Hampton Frost, Isabel Morgan, and Frank Polk, who were changemakers in the battles against other public health emergencies—the 1918 pandemic, polio outbreaks in the 1950s, and the AIDS epidemic, respectively. “Time and time again, when a crisis hit, we responded.”
She urged the Class of 2022 to “reach for the miraculous,” reminding them that “the world’s problems are great; your will must be greater.” MacKenzie also spoke to the importance of courage and determination in the field of public health: “At times you will fail or be ignored. But … you will learn and persist,” she said. “You will try again and again. And then you will fight—so people everywhere can benefit from the power of public health.”
As is tradition at the Bloomberg School’s convocation, faculty and students recited the International Declaration of Health Rights, which was created by Bloomberg School students, faculty, and alumni in 1991 on the occasion of the School’s 75th anniversary. The Declaration is a commitment “to advocacy and action to promote the health rights of all human beings.”
The Bloomberg School Class of 2022 joins a network of more than 27,000 alumni living in over 150 countries. The Bloomberg School has been ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report since the rankings began in 1994.
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