Why I’ve come to love commencement

It’s fun, joyful and focuses on our amazing people

Gillings School degree candidates enter the arena.
Master’s and doctoral candidates ended long and devoted periods of study and began new career paths.

As dean, I wouldn’t miss a School commencement or the University ceremony. Commencement means beginning, but it is so much more. It’s a time out to celebrate who our students are and what they have accomplished before the next stage in life’s journey begins. It’s a pause to thank members of the faculty and staff at this remarkable School—people who come here every day committed to the mission of teaching and mentoring our students. Each year, I admire more our professors, student services managers and others and appreciate how important they are. In many cases, these relationships not only make students’ lives easier and better while they are at the Gillings School and as they graduate, but they become a foundation for lifelong friendships and collaborations.

 Enjoy highlights of the UNC ceremony, with some special photos of Gillings students and members of the faculty and staff.

Commencement is also about community, because as I say each year, public health is not a solitary affair. Whether in our laboratories, NGOs, health-care clinics, communities or other settings, in North Carolina or in countries around the world, we work in teams, with all the interdependence that requires. The feeling of mutual caring, respect and helping is palpable at commencement, especially during our receptions in the atrium and other rooms of our School as students introduce spouses, partners, parents, children and friends to their cherished Gillings friends, faculty and staff members.

The Gillings School commencement was held in UNC’s Carmichael Arena this year.

It’s so much fun to see the pride of families as “their students” cross the stage to be recognized. And it is gratifying to know that the great majority of our graduates will find jobs that will take them across N.C. and the U.S. and around the world—jobs that will allow them to make a difference in the world.

No matter how many times I stand on the stage and shake the hands of these wonderful new grads, I am always amazed by how many of the women students can walk across in 3″-4” heels!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations to all our graduates, and thanks to their families and other loved ones and to our wonderful faculty and staff members. A special thanks also to the people of North Carolina and our generous donors, without whom many of these new alumni would have been unable to attend our School.

Happy Monday and good luck! Barbara

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