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Dornsife Commencement

Students and the Dean gather for photo

Drexel University Commencement 2021

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.

Dornsife's Graduation Ceremony 2021

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, Dornsife hosted its virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021.

The 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 the past year has brought.

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.

Watch now:

About Commencement Speaker Dr. Kenneth Olden

Dornsife 2021 Commencement Speaker Kenneth Olden, PhD

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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Commencement 2020

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

Commencement 2019

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:

Commencement 2018

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

2018 Awards

Latin Honors:
Cum Laude
Kimberly Briegel
Vishakha Hariawala
Leah Popek
Tatijana Taylor
Akshata Yalvigi

Magna Cum Laude
Alya Nadji
Danielle Senk

Pennoni Honors College
Alya Nadji (with distinction)
Danielle Senk
Akshata Yalvigi (with distinction)

Master’s and Doctoral
Academic Honors (4.0 GPA)
Evanette Burrows
Nandita Chowdhury
Carol Collins
Sarukkalige Shanika De Silva
Garrett Devenney
Robert Edwards
Alexandra Ernst
Katharine Finlay
Michael Flanagan
Rebecca Golden
Rachel Ledyard
Emily Lum
Allyson Lynch
Ekaterina Nekrasova
Marialisa Ramirez
Shi Robison

Delta Omega Inductees:
Maggie Beverly
Kathryn Boyle-Steed
Evanette Burrows
Garrett Devenney
Dana Dychtwald
Rebecca Golden
Cecelia Harrison
Erin Hassel
Yuna Kim
Victoria Kontor
Rachel Ledyard
Emily Lum
Allyson Lynch
Megan Lynch
Gregory Mayers
Abigail Mudd
Alya Nadji
Ekaterina Nekrasova
Saima Niamatullah
Leah Popek
Astha Ramaiya
Marialisa Ramirez
Suzanne Redington
Kevin Smith
Kristina Thompson
Xi Wang

Outstanding Promise Award
Garrett Devenney

Public Health Practice Award
Vishakha Hariawala
Thi Trinh

Research Excellence Award
Abigail Mudd*
Xi Wang

Drexel Common Good Award
Jesse Brajuha*

Outstanding Mentorship Award
Daniel Vader

Outstanding Dissertation Award
Alexandra Budenz

Teaching Assistant Excellence Award
Alexandra Budenz*
Daniel Vader

*denotes Graduate College Award recipient

Commencement 2016

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.

Academic Honors

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.

Outstanding Promise: 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.