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Virtual graduation event will feature prominent, but often underrepresented voices in health care and STEM, including Monica McLemore, Joan Reede, Esther Choo, Vivian Pinn, Mona Hanna-Attisha, and many more
Today at 5 p.m. EDT, TIME'S UP Foundation — in partnership with the American Public Health Association — will sponsor the first-ever virtual commencement in honor of students graduating from diverse health care programs across the country.
The “Health STEMencement” aims to amplify the voices of women leaders — especially women of color — who are often underrepresented not only in graduation commencements, but across the health care industry.
“We are determined to celebrate these graduates across the country, many of whom are heading to the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis,” said event emcee Lauren Powell, PhD, MPA, head of TIME’S UP Foundation’s industry change work in health care. “We are particularly excited to highlight the contributions of women and women of color who are leading in these fields and are honored to feature many of their voices in our program. This event is the least we can do to uplift and honor the strength, courage, and perseverance of our 2020 health, public health, and STEM graduates at such a critical time.”
The event website already features short videos from over 40 doctors, scientists, and scholars sharing words of advice and encouragement for the next generation of health-STEM leaders.
The genesis of the event traces back to one tweet from Londyn Robinson, a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In the tweet, she shared an idea to create a library of advice from STEM leaders and tagged one of the founders of TIME’S UP’s work in the health care industry, Dr. Jessi Gold.
“One tweet thrown into an abyss after watching several commencements feature primarily male speakers turned into something that has been nothing short of surreal,” said Robinson. “This has motivated me to continue to use my voice, and has instilled in me a sense of community, more so than I have felt at any time in my medical school career. I am humbled and eternally grateful to these leaders for making it possible.”
The idea quickly reverberated across the health care and public health network — and eventually landed in the hands of Powell and Regina Davis, PhD, MPH, MCHES, APHA’s Associate Executive Director of public health policy and practice, who helped bring the concept to life.
“It is my honor to salute the thousands of women public health and health care graduates embarking on new careers,” Davis said. “Their decision to pursue this profession is a testimony to their commitment to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of our communities, and it gives me hope for a better future for all of us.”
Several medical students also contributed to the effort: Nicole Katz, a third-year medical student at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University; Sarah Newhall, a third-year medical student at Oregon Health and Science University and founding member of TIME’S UP Healthcare; and Zarin Rahman, a first-year medical student at University of Minnesota Medical School.
“Our hope is that after attending Health STEMencement, all graduates in STEM and health sciences feel fully seen and appreciated,” said the four student organizers in a joint statement to TIME’S UP. “The past few months have not been easy, and the months ahead likely won’t be either, but this vibrant and diverse community of leaders is excited to welcome, nurture, and guide us.”
The Health STEMencement will be hosted on YouTube and will go live at 5 p.m. EDT today. More information can be found at www.healthstemencement.org.
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The TIME’S UP™ Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within, so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.