On Friday, June 7, 2024, the UW Department of Global Health held its 17th annual graduation celebration since the department’s inception in 2007. This year we celebrated and honored the accomplishments of three doctoral programs and the Master of Public Health program 52 graduates: 37 graduates in the Master of Public Health program and 15 doctoral students –  three in the inaugural class of the Doctor of Global Health Leadership and Practice program, four in the Pathobiology PhD program and eight from the Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science PhD program.  

DGH graduates come from 19 countries across the globe: Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and, all parts of the United States. Our recent graduates join a cohort of over 2,000 DGH alumni from over 20 nations and five continents. In attendance at the DGH graduation was 2024 School of Public Health Alumni Impact Award recipient, Dr. Biraj Karmacharya who received an MPH in Global Health in the Leadership, Policy and Management track from the University of Washington.  

Interim Chair Carey Farquhar highlighted how all graduates have spent years dedicating themselves and their time to the department’s three foundational pillars: academics, research, and service. 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, “the global and local communities very much need your skills, your passion, your commitment, and your advocacy. This is an important time to be working in global health and each of you has the tools to make a difference.” 

She lauded the DGH 2024 Outstanding Master’s Student Dismas Congo Ouma. Sharing how “he used his time as an MPH student to learn more about scientific inquiry, hypothesis testing, and research methods, and gained skills in academic leadership to address HIV, mental health, and other health problems of significance in his home country, Kenya.”  

Farquhar then recognized the DGH Outstanding Doctoral Student, Melody Wang. Her current dissertation work focuses on decentralizing HIV services from clinic-based settings to community-based approaches in South Africa. 

Also lauded was this year’s School of Public Health Gilbert S. Omenn award for Academic Excellence at the master’s level, DGH student Amanda Li. Her work focused on engaging with community perspectives to shed light on health disparities and improve access to equitable healthcare. Amanda is committed to advocating for system health system changes that address root causes and believes that effective and accessible health communication is essential.  

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.  

Student speaker for the MPH program, Sonyta Saad, shared the realities of the state of the world which she and other students had to face during their studies and continue to face today. She shared how so many “are dying in silence across the African continent…dying of grief and heartbreak” and how “we need to move from speaking about decolonization in classrooms and actually decolonize our world. Decolonize Sudan. Decolonize Yemen. Decolonize Palestine. Decolonize all the countries where innocent lives are being lost because of greed over land and resources. Greed of people who already have too much.” She then encouraged her fellow graduates to “go out there with these great degrees and make the change in any way or any form. Any change that you believe should be there.” 

The Doctor of Global Health Leadership and Practice program graduated their inaugural cohort in 2024. Student speaker Anwar Parvez Sayed noted, “one of the best features of this doctoral program is the leadership and practice experience. All of us worked for [the] United Nations, World Health Organization, not only in headquarters but also in regional offices and country offices of World Health Organizations. We were all part of big events…We felt like we contributed to real change in the world.” 

Continuing on, Pathobiology PhD student speaker, Alyssa Brokaw, shared how, “2020 ushered in something strenuous and challenging but in a way it presented us a uniquely valuable test.” Now, “we’ve arrived at this milestone [as] better researchers and better ambassadors of science because of those tests.“ Finally, “[Graduation] is a moment of excitement and of reflection, a time to express our gratitude to the people who have helped us and there’s so much ahead now. A lifetime of opportunities to make use of everything that we’ve spent years learning.” 

To close out student remarks, the Global Health Implementation Science PhD program student speaker, Orvalho Augusto mused about the path that graduates will embark upon sharing, ”although we are highly trained practitioners of global health, we still have many things to learn. First, we need to know how to practice humility. Second, as important as the rigor of our methods matter, it is not a substitute for the careful listening to the communities and to the health workers we seek to support. Those two important lessons are the cure to acting for global health equity and universal health care for all humans including marginalized communities and sustainability of health systems.”  

He then reminded fellow graduates that “being helpful and [using] careful listening will help us to elevate the voices of the communities we want to serve and it will bring them to participate in setting the agenda for all human beings on this planet. Perhaps that way we will set an inclusive and contextual health agenda contributing to turning our planet into an authentic global village for all.”  

Many congratulations to our Class of 2024 graduates!  

Read the DGH 2024 digital graduation program

View the DGH 2024 graduation photo album.  

Watch the recording of the DGH 2024 graduation ceremony on YouTube.