College sends off Class of 2018 grads with celebration

Dr. Deborah Gould and Dr. Phillip Williams

On May 4, the University of Georgia College of Public Health honored 230 public health students receiving degrees during its 13th annual Graduation Celebration held in the Athena Ballroom of the Classic Center in downtown Athens.

A total of 16 Doctor of Philosophy, seven Doctor of Public Health, 64 Master of Public Health, four Master of Science, and 139 Bachelor of Science degrees were presented to members of the Class of 2018. This year’s class represented 16 U.S. states and five countries.

CPH founding dean Phillip Williams, who will be retiring Dec. 1, gave his final graduation address at the event. “We’re very pleased to have seen to the college [celebration] grow from a handful of graduates in 2005 – and by a handful, I mean six – and fifty people in attendance including faculty and staff. Today there’s over 1500 people in the audience and we’re very proud to have all of you here,” he said.

The commencement address was given by Deborah Gould, Ph.D., senior advisor for partnerships in the Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance (DHIS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gould began her career at CDC in 1995 in the Division of Health Education, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. There she was co-leader of the Psychosocial Effects project, which examined the effects of psychological stress occurring among persons living near hazardous waste sites. Over the next 20 years, Gould would oversee and participate in a variety of CDC public health programs focused on environmental health, birth defects prevention, disaster mental health, and health education and training. Some of the emergency-response activities she participated in include the 2001 anthrax attacks, 2004 SARS pandemic, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and 2014 Ebola Epidemic in West Africa. Gould received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Georgia.

Jamarcus Mathis

Gould spoke enthusiastically to graduates about the career path ahead of them. “You are about to enter a field that has great value to our society. It has great value because public health workers improve the health of the public not just those who can afford to walk into a doctor’s office,” she said. “You’re going to have a chance to improve the health of people within your own communities, nationally as well as globally.”

Dual degree student Jamarcus Mathis (BSHP/MPH ’18) spoke as a representative of the graduating Class of 2018.  An Honors student and CURO Honors Scholar, Mathis completed his dual degree requirements in only four years while actively engaged in health communication and workplace wellness research and other extracurricular activities at UGA.

“Class of 2018, it’s our turn now. Our turn to tackle the world. Grab the bull by the horns. Plant our feet and get it done,” Mathis said. “Just remember, you shouldn’t have to stop and smell the roses because that means at some point you forgot about what’s really important.”

Photos from the graduation are available on the UGA College of Public Health Facebook page.

Or watch Class of 2018 Memories playlist on YouTube below:

At events held this past Spring, the UGA College of Public Health and its various units recognized 39 amazing students, three dedicated faculty members, four remarkable alumni, four outstanding preceptors, and an international leader in fight against infectious diseases. Read more about this year’s UGA College of Public Health honors and awards.

– Rebecca Ayer

Posted on May 7, 2018.

Additional coverage in ASPPH Friday Letter in June 15, 2018 annual graduation feature.