Commencement is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health graduates, who enter a world with much need for their skills, creativity, and commitment to creating healthier, fairer, and more just communities. Because public health can't wait.
The Dornsife School of Public Health's ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 15, 2023, at 1:00 pm at the Academy of Music.
Dornsife's ceremony will be livestreamed on the Commencement website here.
Dornsife's 2023 commencement speaker is Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
There will be a University-wide 2023 Graduation Celebration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Tuesday, June 13 at 4:30 and a University-wide Commencement ceremony at Citizen's Bank Park on Friday, June 16 at 5 p.m.
More details can be found on the Drexel Commencement website.
More About Commencement Speaker Dr. Valerie Arkoosh
Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH, was appointed to lead the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services by Governor Josh Shapiro on January 17, 2023.
Prior to this role, Acting Secretary Arkoosh served on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners since January 2015, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission. Arkoosh won election to a full four-year term in November 2015 and served as Commission Vice Chair until her election as Commission Chair in November 2016. She was the first woman ever to serve in this role. Arkoosh was re-elected in November 2019 and unanimously chosen by her colleagues to again serve as Chair in January 2020. Montgomery County is the third most populous county in Pennsylvania with over 856,000 residents. The three-member Board of Commissioners oversees a budget of more than $500 million and directs more than 2,800 employees charged with administering and overseeing county functions, including human services.
As Commission Chair, Acting Secretary Arkoosh was committed to strengthening services for children, veterans, and seniors. She led the efforts to eliminate street homelessness of veterans and streamline delivery of human services. Recognizing the need for a strong, supported workforce in executing these goals, she instituted a $15 minimum wage and gender-neutral paid parental leave for Montgomery County employees. Drawing on her background as a physician, she oversaw a multi-pronged, integrated response to the opioid overdose epidemic, including issuing a standing order in 2015 to enable participating pharmacies in Montgomery County to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone at the request of any member of the public.
As a physician and public health professional, Acting Secretary Arkoosh was at the center of Montgomery County’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, leading a data- and science-driven approach to the unprecedented challenge. Arkoosh’s leadership was praised during the county’s response, especially her transparency and public communication throughout the pandemic. Acting Secretary Arkoosh is also a staunch advocate for maternal health and reproductive rights, and she serves on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
Upon obtaining her Master of Public Health in 2007, Arkoosh became deeply engaged in the national effort to achieve comprehensive health care reform. She led the National Physicians Alliance, a national non-profit organization of physicians, who, putting their patients before profits, joined a broad-based nation-wide coalition for reform. During this time, she developed policy and legislative strategy, and promoted public engagement in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and throughout the country. Dr. Arkoosh maintains comprehensive knowledge of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on individuals and the health care system.
Prior to stepping into public service, Acting Secretary Arkoosh was Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Arkoosh is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and received a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She performed her residency at Jefferson Medical College in Anesthesiology with a special focus in Obstetrics. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Northwestern University.
Acting Secretary Arkoosh lives in Springfield Township, Montgomery County, with her husband and their three children.
Drexel's university-wide Commencement ceremony was held at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, June 9, 2022. The keynote speaker was Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, an educator, author, civil rights advocate, mathematician, and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
The Dornsife School of Public Health held its own ceremony for our Class of 2022 on Wednesday, June 8, 2022,in the Drexel Recreation Center Gym at 3301 Market Street.
Watch the ceremony:
The Class of 2022 consisted of 19 undergraduate students, 189 master’s students, and 11 doctoral students!
View the Commencement Photo Album
View 2022 Dornsife Commencement Program
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice an error in the program.
"Congratulations for all you have accomplished during this truly unprecedented time," said Dean Ana Diez Roux to graduates.
"The intersecting crises—the pandemic; historical, pervasive, and persistent racial injustice; climate change; gun violence; and war (sadly now as well)—have cracked the door open just enough for us to glimpse a world of new possibilities. A world where things could be organized differently, where we as humans could leverage all of our potential together to create, enjoy, and live our lives to fulfillment. The door is open just a crack, so stick your foot in it and don't let it close."
Advancing Equity Amidst Climate Change
Dornsife's commencement speaker was Saleem Chapman, MPA, who became Philadelphia’s inaugural chief resilience officer in September 2020.
In this role, Mr. Chapman oversees the city's preparedness for the unprecedented challenge of the climate crisis. He also ensures that the city is making progress toward goals laid out by Mayor Jim Kenney’s Administration to create a more resilient, equitable city for current and future residents.
As deputy director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, Mr. Chapman also works with the Environmental Justice Advisory Commission that was formed in February 2022 to engage citizens who live in vulnerable neighborhoods. The city established an Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to collaborate with the commission in promoting practices, programs and policies to advance equitable outcomes.
Before joining the City of Philadelphia, Saleem served as a campaign manager with Penn Future and as policy and advocacy manager with the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. In these roles, he amassed an array of experience in urban policy analysis and advancing environmental justice and sustainable economic development.
Mr. Chapman is a native of West Philadelphia who received his bachelor of science and master of public administration degrees from Penn State University.
Drexel University's commencement ceremony returned to Citizens Bank Park on Friday, June 11, 2021.
Elijah Anderson was this year's speaker. Anderson, the Sterling Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies at Yale University, is one of the nation’s most influential scholars in the field of urban inequality.
The Dornsife School of Public Health held its own virtual graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 10, 2021, to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021.
The school ceremony was live-streamed from Drexel's Mandell Theatre where Drexel University President John Fry, Dean Ana Diez Roux, Assistant Dean of Student & Alumni Affairs Phi Nguyen and guest speaker Kenneth Olden each congratulated the grads on their achievements despite the many hardships and hurdles of the past year.
Puja Patel, MPH in health management and policy ‘21, and Afrah Howlander, BS in public health ‘21, also addressed their fellow classmates and reflected on their memorable experiences while at Dornsife.
About Commencement Speaker Dr. Kenneth Olden
Dornsife's 2021 commencement speaker is Kenneth Olden, PhD, who recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he served as Director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment from 2012-2016.
Olden leaves a strong legacy of promoting excellence in environmental health research and chemical risk assessment. He started his distinguished career in medical research as a postdoctoral fellow from 1970-1974 in physiology and biochemistry at the Harvard School of Medicine in Boston, MA. He then moved to the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health as a Senior Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. In 1977, he was promoted to the Rank of Tenured Independent Investigator; becoming the first African American to achieve such a rank in the National Institutes of Health.
In 1979, Olden was appointed Professor in the Department of Oncology and Scientific Director of the Howard University Cancer Center at the Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. Six years later (1985), he was promoted to the position of Director of the Cancer Center and Chair of the Department of Oncology.
From 1991-2005, Olden served as Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), in the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He made history in this role as the first African American to direct one of the Institutes in the National Institutes of Health. In 2005, Olden resigned as Director of NIEHS and NTP to spend more time directing the institute's research program in cancer metastasis in the Molecular Carcinogenesis Laboratory.
Olden took a leave of absence from the NIH to spend the 2006-2007 academic year at the Harvard School of Public Health as the Yerby Visiting Professor. From 2008-2012, Ken served as Founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York (CUNY). In this capacity, he integrated four existing programs in the CUNY system to create a system-wide School of Public Health, recruited new faculty and staff, got the school a five-year accreditation, and transitioned the school to a new campus in East Harlem.
Olden has published extensively (220 papers) in peer-reviewed literature, chaired or co-chaired numerous national and international meetings, and has been an invited speaker at more than 250 symposia. He has been the recipient of a long list of honors and awards including the Presidential (William J. Clinton) Distinguished Executive Rank Award; the Presidential (William J. Clinton) Meritorious Rank Award; the Toxicology Forum Distinguished Fellow Award; the HHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award; the American College of Toxicology Distinguished Service Award; the City of Medicine Award in 1996, and the National Minority Health Leadership award.
Olden is also the recipient of the three most distinguished awards in public health: the Calvert award (2002); the Sedgwick Medal (2004), and the Julius B. Richmond Award (2005). In 2012, he received the Cato T. Laurencin Lifetime Research Award from the National Medical Association. In 2015, Olden was awarded the Sackler Prize by ‘Research America’ in recognition for sustained leadership in prompting Community-Based Participatory Research. Consistent with the above record of accomplishment, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences in 1994.
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During the week of June 8, 2020, the Dornsife School of Public Health honored the hard work and achievements of our graduates with a host of video messages from faculty, alumni, and classmates, and other public health professionals.
"You are entering public health at an unprecedented time: a time when the importance of the training you have obtained is more visible and urgent than ever before," said Dean Ana Diez Roux. "We are confident that you have much to contribute to the current public health crises we are facing, but also to the ongoing public health problems that will continue into the future."
Visit Drexel Commencement to watch the 2020 University Celebration video.
Download Dornsife's 2020 commencement program.
"Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." - Excerpt from the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights
On Friday, June 14, 2019, the Dornsife School of Public Health celebrated the hard work, determination, and achievements of the Class of 2019 at Commencement. Surrounded by cheering loved ones, peers, faculty and staff, graduates were reminded of the critical value of public health professionals in today’s world.
In the face of the challenges ahead, students were encouraged to "share your stories and stories of public health with those around you" and "make space for humanity in all her truths" by Commencement speaker, Jasmine Ward, PhD, assistant professor of health studies at TX Woman's University and founder and CEO of Black Ladies in Public Health.
Dean Diez Roux saluted the next generation of public health leaders with a passionate call to action: “You have acquired a key awareness of the responsibility that we have as public health professionals to use what we know to make our world healthier and more equitable for all."
Student speaker, Signe Espinoza, MPH ’19, inspired her fellow graduates by encouraging them to lead: "Never has our world needed leaders like us more. Our world needs us because public health initiatives and work affect people every day."
View the Commencement 2019 photo album
Watch a video of the entire Commencement ceremony:
On Friday, June 15, 2018, the Dornsife School of Public Health Class of 2018 was celebrated at Commencement.
Karen DeSalvo, MD, HD ’15, former national coordinator for Health IT and HHS Acting Secretary for Health. DeSalvo, who was introduced by Dornsife Dean Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, ensured graduates that they are positioned to make systemic change, lead, and go beyond the traditional roles of public health practitioners.
DeSalvo concluded her speech with a quote from Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” She added, “Remember to go out and heal your communities, only you can … use your power to change the world.”
Dean Diez Roux saluted the graduating class: “You have acquired three core values of public health. The critical value of truth, scientific rigor, and a commitment to equity and inclusion, because it’s the right thing not only morally, but also because it is critical to improve population health.”
Student speaker, Jesse Brajuha, MPH ’18, inspired his fellow graduates by encouraging them to contribute to fight for a more just, equitable future. “Adopt the notion that none of us are free while others are oppressed,” he said. He encouraged his peers to use the tools and lessons learned from their time at Dornsife to change communities, cities, and the world.
View the Commencement 2018 photo album
Magna Cum Laude
Pennoni Honors College
Alya Nadji (with distinction)
Akshata Yalvigi (with distinction)
Master’s and Doctoral
Academic Honors (4.0 GPA)
Sarukkalige Shanika De Silva
Delta Omega Inductees:
Outstanding Promise Award
Public Health Practice Award
Research Excellence Award
Drexel Common Good Award
Outstanding Mentorship Award
Outstanding Dissertation Award
Teaching Assistant Excellence Award
*denotes Graduate College Award recipient
Relive the excitement as the Dornsife School of Public Health celebrated its first school-specific graduation ceremony and the first graduate of our Bachelor's of Science in Public Health program.
View the Commencement 2016 photo album
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Inspires Graduates
Watch Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, Health Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia, encourage Dornsife School of Public Health bachelor's, master's and doctoral students to "think big" and "save lives by the thousands."
2016 Dornsife Award Recipients
Congratulations to the students, faculty, preceptors and staff who were recognized for their leadership, mentorship, community engagement and academic achievements in 2016.
Students with a 4.0 GPA through winter quarter 2016: Christina Bowles, Cendie Crawley, Emily Joyce Curren, Michelle Dougherty, Janet Fleetwood, Nancy Hansen, Erica Harris, Samantha James, Elizabeth Kauffman, Kathryn McNamara, Cynthia Wong.
Delta Omega Inductees
Lindsay Berrigan, Ruth Boansi, Christina Bowles, Michelle Dougherty, Kara Fisher, Rosie Mae Henson, Samantha James, Elizabeth Kauffman, Brittany Koch, Alexander Long, Kathryn McNamara, Olufunlayo Osayameh, Ellen Ossola, Anthony Siciliano, Diana Thao, Cynthia Wong.
Community Service Award
For a graduating student who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to community service.
Recipient: Ruth Boansi
Nominees: Ruth Boansi, Christina Bowles, Brittany Koch
Student Public Health Practice Award
For a student or student team that has demonstrated a commitment to advancing the practice of public health.
Recipient: Rosie Mae Henson
Nominees: Christina Bowles, Alana Cordeiro, Rosie Mae Henson
Leadership Excellence Award
The award is for a graduating student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership ability.
Recipient: Christina Bowles
Nominees: Laila Abdallah, Ruth Boansi, Christina Bowles, Kiana Hardy, Bhavika Patel
Student Government Organization
The Dornsife School of Public Health recognizes the Student Government Organization (SGO) representatives for their service to the school and the student body: Laila Abdullah, Eman Addish, Brenna Aumaier, Ruth Boansi, Victoria Clements, Andy Fox, Kiana Hardy, Bhavika Patel, Tara Van Doren.
Faculty Public Health Practice Award
For a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the practice of public health through research, scholarship, teaching or mentorship of students.
Recipient: Sandra Bloom, MD
Sandra Bloom, Associate Professor, Health Management and Policy
Alison Evans, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Longjian Liu, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Yvonne Michael, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Preceptor Public Health Practice Award
This award recognizes a Dornsife partner for exceptional contributions to student practical experiences or to the teaching and mentoring of students.
Recipient: Stacey Trooskin, MD, PhD
Amal El-Nageh, Program Evaluation and HR Specialist, Jewish Family and Children's Service
Longjian Liu, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Stacey Trooskin, Assistant Professor, Drexel College of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Golden Apple Awards
This award honors faculty for outstanding teaching and commitment to the academic experience of students.
Recipients: Thersa Sweet, PhD, MPH, and Loni Philip Tabb, PhD
Mentor Recognition Award
The award is given by Dornsife public health students to a member of the Dornsife public health community in recognition of outstanding contributions to mentorship, student advising, teaching or other service to the school.
Recipient: Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH
Jeanette Bowles, Adjunt Faculty, Community Health and Prevention
Amy Carroll-Scott, Assistant Professor, Community Health and Prevention
Rosie Mae Henson, Health Management and Policy
Jessica Lopez, Research Project Coordinator, Community Health and Prevention
Phillip Massey, Assistant Professor, Community Health and Prevention
Thersa Sweet, Assistant Teaching Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Michael Yudell, Associate Professor, Community Health and Prevention
Staff Excellence Awards
The Staff Excellence Award recognizes staff members for outstanding contributions and service to the school.
Recipients: Victoria Egan and Idris Robinson, MPH '13
Patience Ajoff-Foster, Program Manager, Community Health and Prevention
Diane Benckert, Executive Assistant II, Dean's Office
Georgeanne Bieg, Sr. Business Administrator, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Mary Genevieve Carty, Educational Program Manager, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Karen DeVose, Academic Advisor, Academic and Faculty Affairs
Angelita Dorsey, Administrative Coordinator, Community Health and Prevention
Victoria Egan, Deputy Director, Center for Hunger-Free Communities
Tom Hipper, Program Manager, Environmental and Occupational Health
Allison Keene, Program Coordinator II, Health Management and Policy
Jessica Lopez, Research Project Coordinator, Community Health and Prevention
Kayli Moran, Assistant Director, Student Services, Student Affairs
Idris Robinson, Assistant Director, Office of Global Health
Lucy Robinson, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Thersa Sweet, Assistant Teaching Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Caroline Voyles, Director, Student Placement, Public Health Practice
2016 Drexel University Graduate College Award Winners
DSPH faculty, students, and staff received awards at Drexel's Graduate Student Day on May 16.
Outstanding Dissertation: Honorable Mention given to Aimee Palumbo, Epidemiology
These awards are presented to doctoral students in recognition of excellence in dissertation research and to encourage the highest levels of scholarship, research and writing.
: Honorable Mention given to Michael Thomas, Biostatistics
These awards are presented to graduate students who are deemed to exhibit great promise for regional, national or societal impact, and accordingly, for enhancing Drexel's reputation, now and in the future.
Graduate Spirit: Kiana Hardy, Arjita Rai, Kathleen Rowe
Outstanding Faculty: Jerald Fagliano
Outstanding Staff: Kayli Moran
Most Active Organization: SGO
Most Popular Event of the Year: National Public Health Week
Best New Organization: Global Health Forum (GHF)
Most Improved Organization: Environmental and Occupational Health Club (EOH)
To view all of the of the Graduate College Award Winners, visit the Graduate College website.