College Honors Class of 2022 Graduates at Degree Celebration

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Congratulations, Class of 2022!

Graduates of the College of Health and Human Services Class of 2022 were honored during an in-person Degree Celebration at EagleBank Arena on May 22. We are pleased to resume the tradition of hosting in-person Degree Celebrations, and the celebration was live-streamed for those who could not attend.

Kim Holmes, associate dean for academic affairs, hosted the celebration and welcomed the graduates and their loved ones during opening remarks, followed by comments from Dean Germaine Louis, keynote speaker Karen Dale, and student speaker Deniz Lopez-Jimenez.

Holmes opened the program by acknowledging all the hard work that led students to this moment.

“Our graduates have made their mark on Mason and their neighboring communities. Many have spent countless hours working and training in local clinics, researching topics that will improve the health of others, leading student organizations, serving the community, and other important causes,” Holmes said. The College conferred 469 bachelor’s degrees, 270 master’s degrees, 34 doctoral degrees, and 21 graduate certificates, boasting a total of 794 spring 2022 graduates who received their degrees across six departments.

“Today, we want you to know that we see your efforts, we’ve seen you in the building on early mornings putting the finishing touches on assignments, meeting classmates; we see the challenges you’ve overcome, juggling work, family commitments, classes, internships, clinical hours; and in the end you all shared a common goal of helping and serving others by proving health and services can support health and wellness,” she continued. “Whether you know it or not, you challenge all of us to be better, push harder, and to chase our dreams. After all your hard work, today is our day to honor and celebrate you.”

Dean Louis and Karen Dale
Dean Germaine Louis and Keynote Speaker alumna Karen Dale

Dean Germaine Louis took the podium next to share that it was the students who inspired her to overcome her writing block and complete this speech only a few days ago.

“My block was because of the many challenges in the world that are facing our current graduates as well as future ones. And to me, at times, these challenges feel insurmountable,” said Louis. “How do we overcome global hunger, housing instability, health disparities driven by social inequities, hatred, violence, trauma, climate change, in over one million lives lost from COVID-19 infections in the US alone? I asked myself, are these challenges curable? Is it reasonable to ask today’s graduates and the ones to follow to be able to solve these problems that certainly my generation has not done?”

“I thought about our students in the college, across all disciplines...I easily remembered how incredible they are; Something their parents, family, and friends already know and know well,” Louis continued. “As health professionals, our students show up when need arises. Words cannot come close to expressing the great pride I have for our graduates and the faculty and staff who stand with them.”

“I found my renewed sense of hope in you. You can and will correct the wrongs of the world to innovate new paths forward and to deliver health equity irrespective of remaining challenges,” said Louis.

She also offered a few words of advice and hope.

“Remain intellectually curious with a willingness to learn to advance knowledge and deliver health innovations,” she said. “Remember together we can make health visible a reality for all. In the words of Mason’s president Gregory Washington, ‘It’s Mason’s Time and it gives me hope.’”

Bachelor of Nursing alumna Dale spoke to graduates about the importance of purpose. She is the market president and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer for AmeriHealth Caritas’ Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) in Washington, D.C. Dale was originally scheduled to address graduates at the May 2020 Degree Celebration which was canceled due to COVID-19, but returned this year to encourage graduates to find their individual motivations.

Dale shared that clarity of purpose helps us to be more resilient and have greater life satisfaction. She recommended these steps to find that clarity: Identify your unique gifts, have courage, be inclusive, and make decisions based on what’s right.

“This is the beginning of an opportunity for you to leverage your unique gifts, to find your purpose, to be a catalyst for good,” Dale said. “I wish you immense success in all your endeavors; and I hope you leave this ceremony with positive emotion in your heart, a focus on intentional engagement in all your relationships, a magnificent sense of urgency to define your meaning and purpose, and that you have the courage, the renewable courage, to lead in ways that help you to achieve yet unimagined accomplishments.”

Deniz Lopez-Jimenez
Student Speaker Deniz Lopez-Jimenez

Lopez-Jimenez is a first-generation U.S. college student, who wanted to share his story of hope with his fellow graduates. He thanked his family and asked graduates to give their support networks and themselves a round of applause for all they have accomplished.

“In your future endeavors, I urge you to keep advocating for and helping others, persevering, and holding dear the value of the Mason experience. Go out there and make the world a better place! If you’re a first-generation college student, know that ‘Si se puede!’ You can do it! We can do it.”

After the ceremony, graduates, their families and friends, faculty, and staff were invited to a celebratory reception at Peterson Hall.

Congratulations to our newest alumni!

Check back in a few days for a slideshow of event photos.

To stay connected, all alumni are encouraged to become a part of the public health dialogue on the College’s social media channels: chhs.gmu.edu/news | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram