SPH Shines at UNTHSC 2024 Commencement

May 29, 2024 • News

By Katie Biggar

Sph CommencementThe University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth held its 2024 commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 22, at Dickies Arena. During the event, students from six colleges within the university were awarded their master’s and doctoral degrees. Among these graduates, the School of Public Health stood as a pillar of transformation with 72 graduates, including 6 dual degree recipients, shaping professionals committed to advancing public health on a global scale.

Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, SPH Dean, extended heartfelt congratulations on behalf of the faculty and staff, emphasizing the graduates’ pivotal role in transforming health equity and community well-being.

“Whether as practitioners, policymakers, educators, researchers, or a combination thereof, it is our deepest hope that you will continue to dedicate your future to advancing health equity and improving the conditions of life in the communities you will serve,” Dr. Dharamsi said. “You are the leaders of tomorrow, and the world is counting on your expertise, innovation, and compassion.”

As the ceremony commenced, Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, President of HSC, warmly addressed the graduates gathered before her with an inspiring welcome address.

“Your resilience, perseverance, and adaptability deserve to be recognized because it is these qualities, along with the invaluable skills you learned here, that will take you far in life,” Dr. Trent-Adams emphasized. “Thank you for choosing HSC to help you on this lifelong journey. I know each of you will do great things with the knowledge you’ve gained during your time here.”

 

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Before each student crossed the stage, four awards of the highest honor were bestowed upon three graduates and one alumnus for demonstrating excellence outside of an academic setting. The President’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Service was presented to Dr. Ohit Ojha, an alumnus from the School of Public Health.

Dr. Ojha serves as the director of the Center for Epidemiology and Healthcare Delivery Research at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth and is an associate professor in the Department of Medical Education at the TCU Burnett School of Medicine.

“Starting my doctoral training at the HSC School of Public Health, I didn’t anticipate the profound impact it would have on me personally and professionally,” Dr. Ojha said in his acceptance speech video. “It exposed me to new ideas and ways of thinking, prompting me to ponder my purpose and the essential questions: Who can I help? What problems can I solve? These questions led me to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where I worked on improving the lives of childhood cancer survivors, and later to JPS Health Network, addressing the needs of socioeconomically marginalized populations. While I may not recall every paper or grant, I’ll be satisfied knowing whom I’ve helped and what issues I’ve addressed.”

An uplifting HSC tradition marked the end of the ceremony as graduates from each of the six colleges recited their respective oaths, affirming their commitment to their professions and the values of integrity, compassion, and excellence. This tradition symbolizes the dedication of UNTHSC graduates to upholding the highest standards in healthcare and public health. Dr. Ohit Ojha’s inspiring journey and impactful work exemplify these values as instilled by the School of Public Health and HSC, emphasizing the responsibility of public health workers to serve society with integrity and compassion.

“The purpose of the Health Science Center is to transform lives, in order to improve the lives of others,” Dr. Trent-Adams said in her closing remarks. “Transformation can occur in several ways: growing in knowledge, seeking new experiences, and through innovation and discovery. As you leave here today, I advise you to never stop learning, seek new knowledge in every aspect of your career, and remain open to new opportunities so you can create your own journey. Use your research and clinical practice to allow you to discover new frontiers and create breakthroughs in science and medicine that will improve lives and public health around the world. My wish for you is that you never lose your passion, that it keeps your mind clear for the journey ahead, and it gives you the discernment needed as you grow in wisdom throughout your life.”