On May 12th, we honored the first UTC MPH program graduating class – the 2020 Pioneers! The virtual event included messages from our leadership, a keynote guest speaker, MPH faculty farewells, and an opportunity to highlight accomplishments and hear from each Pioneer.

Although the official UTC spring 2020 commencement ceremony was postponed until August 7, our graduates deserved a special moment to celebrate the attainment of their MPH degree. The program organized an online celebration via Zoom, which included messages from Dr. Valerie Rutledge, Dean of CHEPS, Dr. Marisa Colston, HHP Department Head, and keynote speaker Ms. Leslie Meehan, Director of Primary Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Health, who spoke on the importance of public health and chronic disease both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. She encouraged graduates to go out and see the big picture, be a doer, and use their superpower of natural curiosity to provide public health solutions. She congratulated our students and made clear that there is no better time to graduate with an MPH and make public health shine! Following Ms. Meehan’s words, each MPH faculty member had the opportunity to reminisce, share inspiring and farewell messages to the cohort.

The evening culminated with honoring each Pioneer’s accolades and accomplishments throughout the two-year program. A power point slide was dedicated to each graduate, who were introduced by his/her faculty advisor. The slide included a photo of the graduate and a list of highlights (i.e., graduate/research assistantships, awards, leadership roles, community experiences) while in the MPH program. The graduates then had an opportunity to share their overall experiences and provide special shout out to their professors, family, and friends. 

The event concluded with a toast in which every attendee raised their glass and cheered for the 2020 Pioneers success  in Public Health! The UTC MPH Program is extremely proud of the inaugural class and we look forward to keeping in touch with our alumni and continue to highlight their achievements in the future!