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American University Fall Commencement to Feature Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy

AU President Sylvia Burwell and Dr. Murthy will honor more than 1,700 graduates on Dec. 17 

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's 21st Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, will deliver a keynote address at American University's two fall commencement ceremonies on Sunday, December 17, 2023. As the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy commands a uniformed service of more than 6,000 dedicated public health officers, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad. Continuing the long tradition of AU commencement speakers who make an impact in their community and around the world, Dr. Murthy will engage AU's changemaking graduates as they embark on new adventures empowered by their unique AU education and experience. 

Dr. Murthy's speech comes at a critical time as he just concluded his "We Are Made to Connect" College Tour and launched his 5-for-5 Connection Challenge, aimed at combating the loneliness epidemic and helping Americans build connection into their daily lives. Earlier this year, Dr. Murthy released the Surgeon General's Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, which warns of the profound mental and physical health risks that social disconnection poses, and the widespread nature of the issue. Supporting student thriving and mental health is a priority at American University and Dr. Murthy's work aligns with AU's ongoing engagement in student well-being, which includes the university's forthcoming Student Thriving Complex. 

"Dr. Murthy and I served together at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, so I know firsthand the dedication, skill, and compassion that drives his work as our nation's top doctor," said AU President Sylvia Burwell. "From his important work on the loneliness epidemic, and its impact on college-age youth in particular, to his service as a key advisor to President Biden's COVID-19 pandemic response operation, Dr. Murthy is a true changemaker who will inspire our graduates as they begin their own impactful pursuits." 

"I am honored to celebrate this important milestone with American University's graduates this year," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. "Commencement serves as a unique moment for graduates to reflect on the past and look forward to the future they want to build. As graduates begin their next chapter, I hope this time with peers, professors, and loved ones is filled with pride and joy." 

Approximately 1,700 graduates will receive their degrees from all eight of AU's schools during ceremonies at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Bender Arena on the AU campus. Students will hear from fellow graduates at each of the ceremonies: 

  • Ying Ting Yanie Wong, who is a double major, receiving her Bachelor of Science from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Kogod School of Business, already accepted a position as an accounting associate at PwC. Yanie fell in love with accounting by taking introductory courses at Kogod.
  • Brianna Starks, who will be awarded her Master of Arts from the School of Communication, originally thought of attending law school. Instead, she chose the School of Communication to help her launch a business focused on preparing people of color for careers in politics.
  • Daniella Olivares is receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Arts and Sciences. Olivares wants to pursue a career in psychology and will encourage fellow graduates to embrace the unknown.
  • Jermaine Gassaway, who is receiving his Master of Education, will speak at the second ceremony. Gassaway fell in love with teaching while working with Teach for America. His dream is to use the education he received at AU to ensure children in their home zip code have access to quality education.

This is American University's 146th commencement. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy joins other notable American University fall commencement speakers such as Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and chief executive officer of TIAA, Abby Phillip, CNN senior political correspondent and anchor of NewsNight, and Andrea Mitchell, host of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports


American University leverages the power and purpose of scholarship, learning, and community to impact our changing world. AU's faculty, students, staff, and alumni are changemakers who shape the future from sustainability to social justice to the sciences. Building on our 130-year history of education and research in the public interest, we say "Challenge Accepted" to addressing the world's pressing issues. Our Change Can't Wait comprehensive campaign creates transformative educational opportunities, advances research with impact, and builds stronger communities. 

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SOURCE American University

By: PR Newswire Association LLC. - 06 Dec 2023
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