Inspiration from multiple directions, including Wayne Gretsky

Inspiration-filled week

It has been a week in which inspiration has come from multiple directions-our students who won awards at the Graduate School’s Recognition Ceremony, a lecture Jim Marks gave at our School Friday, another lecture, by Stephen Lewis, Friday (busy day!), colleagues in Pharmacoepidemiology to whom I spoke Saturday night and a writer who passed away recently but whose words live on.

Graduate School Recognition Ceremony

Thursday April 8th, the Graduate School recognized students whose research has contributed to the benefit of North Carolina. I am really proud that our School’s students were really well-represented among recipients. Our students won 4 of 16 Impact Awards. Read more about the students and their accomplishments. I always feel like a proud parent at this event, especially this year, when one of my students (Dr. Earp chaired her committee.), Jennifer Gierisch, was among Impact Award recipients.

Wayne Gretsky and the Future of Public Health Leadership

What does Wayne Gretsky have to do with the future of public health leadership? A lot says Jim Marks, MD, MPH, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  He urged people in public health to anticipate where “the puck” will be and to drive towards that. Dr. Marks also reminded us that in hockey, the assist is valued highly, and it should be in public health as well. Public health problems won’t be solved by public health professionals alone but by collaborations across sectors. “Assists” are essential to success. Policy is one of the most effective interventions we can use to improve health, but it must come from science and evidence. He said that interventions like seat belts and clean indoor air laws convert fate into societal choice. Marks also reminded us that one of the greatest leadership challenges is to lead where there is little or no authority. (We’ll have the lecture on our website soon.) The timing for the talk was perfect since we’ll be working with people in the School and beyond to anticipate the future and plan for it.

Losses and Inspiration

25 West Virginia miners died in a mine accident this week. I cannot know what it is to risk one’s life every day just by going to work, but I empathize. It seems like people have been talking about mine safety for a very long time. Why did this accident happen?

As some readers know, one of my muses is my sister Sara. One of Sara’s friends, Susan Tifft, recently died. She is known for two books she wrote with her husband, Alex S. Jones, about newspaper dynasties, her prior work as a Time writer and other influential positions she held. She also was a beloved professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy (down the road from us). After being diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer, she began writing an honest, gritty and informative blog about her experiences. Although I had not known Susan, I began to know her as I found myself reading her past blog posts with an aching heart.

Her husband said about Ms. Tifft that “She had an enormous circle because she invested so much sincere personal energy in the art of friendship.”  Quoting from the Marquard article in the Boston Globe

“My oncologist on Monday advised me to think about what I want my legacy to be,” she wrote. “My conclusion? I want my legacy to be all of you – my friends, loved ones, former students – a human chain of those who have guided and influenced me, and whom I touched and influenced . Final advice? Always do the right thing. It will gratify your friends and enrage your enemies.”

Susan’s valuing of friends by investing her time in them got my attention. How many of us give enough time to friendship?  I am sorry I did not know her. Still, she has influenced me. What do you want your legacy to be?

Happy Monday. Barbara

Tagged  education, inspiration

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