On Thursday, June 8, 2023, the UW Department of Global Health held its 16th annual graduation celebration since the department’s inception in 2007. This year we celebrated and honored the accomplishments of 64 graduates: 40 graduates in the Master of Public Health program and 24 doctoral students – which includes six from the Pathobiology PhD program and 18 from the Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science PhD program. 

The Department of Global Health is home to four graduate degree programs: a Master of Public Health, two PhD doctoral programs - a Pathobiology interdisciplinary basic science program, and a PhD in Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science, as well as the new practice-oriented doctorate, the Doctor of Global Health Leadership and Practice (DrGH). 

It’s encouraging and empowering to see the impact of DGH alumni continue to grow and flourish across the globe every year. The department now has over 2,000 alumni with 500 graduates from graduate degree programs with alumni representing 20 nations, currently working in 25 countries over five continents.  

In her remarks to the graduates, DGH Interim Chair Carey Farquhar showcased how over one-third of the 2023 graduates come from outside the United States, from countries including Canada, Chile, China, Ghana, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Sudan, and Ukraine. She highlighted how all graduates have spent years dedicating themselves and their time to the department’s three foundational pillars: academics, research, and service and that the department is proud of the work they’ve done and the dedication that has seen them through their respective programs. 

Farquhar reminded students that, “there’s never been a time of greater urgency and need for your knowledge, your skills, your passion and commitment."

Graduation is a time to showcase student achievements. Chair Farquhar lauded the DGH 2023 Outstanding Master’s Student, Emilia Cardenas’ work strengthening local health models among communities that have been historically excluded from public health discourse and practice. The 2023 Outstanding Student at the doctoral level, Wisal Ahmed, has provided technical support to the World Health Organization (WHO) to stop health care providers’ involvement in female genital mutilation and to engage them as champions of social change.  

The celebration continued by sharing how the School of Public Health (SPH), which the Department of Global Health is a part of, also recognizes an outstanding master’s level and doctoral level student. This year’s School of Public Health Gilbert S. Ohmenn award for Academic Excellence at the master’s level was DGH student Carole Green. Carol’s thesis topic breaks new ground in monitoring adaptive capacity to better understand the extent to which health systems are increasing their abilities to manage the health risks of climate change.  

No one knows the twisting journey to completing a graduate degree better than the graduates themselves and this year’s graduating class heard from multiple student speakers who brought attention to the unique experiences and skills gained outside of textbooks and labs. We heard from students embracing diversity, to harnessing innate passion, to using relationship skills, beyond just one’s refined academic learnings.  

Priyasha Maharjan, a Fulbright scholar and Master of Public Health student from Nepal, shared how many students bonded over a mutual passion for global health and opportunities for impact, alongside the highs and lows of their studies.” It is the intangible things that I will carry forward: the memories, the friendships, and the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today.” She encouraged graduates to “remember all the lessons we’ve learned here at UW: to embrace diversity, to be curious and inquisitive and to always strive for excellence.”  

Health Metrics and Evaluation master’s student Francisca Gonzalez Cohens, took the time to look back at what students gained during their time with DGH. “This program gave us the tools to develop the power to dismantle structural inequities. We have the knowledge, we are young, passionate, and humble…sitting here today to fight for health equity.” 

Felicia Watson, student speaker from the Pathobiology PhD program, shared with graduates how “today is about looking forward to our next career steps and our next adventures.” 

Closing student speaker Dorothy Mangale, PhD in Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science spoke of the future. “Now as global health practitioners, we have a monumental task ahead of us: to promote global health equity and decolonize the field…We are armed with a secret weapon: our capacity to listen, and our capacity to build and maintain relationships. Our relationships and soft skills have the power to break down barriers, bridge cultural gaps, and help us connect to people on a deeper level.” 


Many congratulations to our Class of 2023 graduates!