The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy awarded degrees to 114 students on May 23 in a virtual ceremony marked by joy, hope, and recognition of a uniquely challenging year.
Dean Dariush Mozaffarian addressed graduates from the school’s studio, wearing academic regalia. “You, our future leaders, are our school’s most important products,” he said. “Remember what you’ve learned. Remember what brought you here. Remember where you wish to go. Keep your connections and your network, innovate, take risks, and aim for the higher good.”
Student speaker Melissa Gordon, N21, spoke frankly about the pandemic. “Some of us have found silver linings and types of resilience and adaptability we didn’t know we had,” she said. “But mostly, it’s been horrible.” Gordon offered nine seconds of silence for those killed this year by police violence.
She also shared fond memories of her years at the Friedman School, and said she was “excited to see where we take life as we enter the post-graduation working world. . . . I urge you to keep asking hard questions and making those in power perspire, and to use your truth-telling toolkit to make positive change.”
It will take fierce caring, but change is possible, said keynote speaker Yvonne Maddox, president and CEO of the TA Thornton Foundation, dedicated to the health and wellness of underserved communities. “The future will look bright and will bring opportunities for you to explore and effect relevant ideas, to secure grant funding and new job opportunities,” Maddox predicted.
Maddox shared stories of single mothers who have struggled to feed their children on food subsidy programs, and statistics such as the 22.5 percent of African American households that are food insecure. “What will you do? How will your new degree help conquer food injustice in our country and indeed change the world?” she said. “As you open the doors of food shelters, move your research in health disparities into policy change, and open the doors of your heart, it is never too late or too early to think about your life well lived.”
Friedman Board of Advisors member Ted Mayer expressed confidence in the Class of 2021. “We are proud to have you, our graduates, at the forefront of the work that will help to solve these daunting problems,” Mayer said, referring to climate change, urbanization, food insecurity, and diet-related disease. “We know you have the goods, and we look forward to following your careers going forward.”
Following the speeches, PhD candidates were hooded on camera. In Somerville, Ilana Cliffer cheered and jumped up and down at the center of a small crowd; in Wenzhou, China, Shumao Ye and his family threw their arms around each other. —Monica Jimenez, University Communications and Marketing
The all-university event is inclusive of the graduates of all schools. This ceremony included the Commencement address as well as the granting of honorary degrees. No individual graduates were recognized at this event. Instead, individual graduates were recognized at the school-specific ceremonies (listed below).
|Saturday, May 22 at 1 p.m. EDT
Saturday, May 22 at 2 p.m. EDT
Baccalaureate (features interviews, a musical performance, speeches, and multifaith blessings from our chaplains)
Sunday, May 23 at 9 a.m. EDT
|Sunday, May 23 at 10 a.m. EDT
Sunday, May 23 at 12 p.m. EDT
|Sunday, May 23 at 1 p.m. EDT
Sunday, May 23 at 2 p.m. EDT
Sunday, May 23 at 3 p.m. EDT