CDU Celebrates Graduates with Dual Commencement Ceremonies
CDU held its 38th Annual Commencement Ceremonies at the Dignity Health Sports Park on June 6, 2022, conferring degrees and certificates upon the Class of 2022. The celebration also welcomed the Mighty Lions of 2020 and 2021 who were not able to celebrate their graduations in person due to the COVID-19 event policy that was in place these past two years.
This year’s commencement was the largest in the University’s history and consisted of a morning ceremony honoring graduates of the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing (MMDSON) and an afternoon ceremony honoring the graduates of College of Medicine and the College of Science and Health.
CDU President and CEO David M. Carlisle took to the podium to address the graduates and frame the impact they will have as they start or return to their careers in the health professions. “The world that awaits you, now more than ever, is in need of your unique combination of compassion, knowledge, and skill,” noted President Carllisle. “If each of you manage to take just a few steps towards health equity after leaving here, then what I see before me is that we are a thousand steps closer to achieving that vision.”
The theme of this year’s commencement was “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people,” a quote by Cornel West, noted philosopher and political activist.
Dr. West delivered an inspiring keynote address at the morning ceremony for MMDSON. He urged graduates to be long distance runners in their plight to stand up against ailments plaguing society like organized hatred, institutionalized greed, and chronic hypocrisy.
“How are we going to be countervailing forces against it? That’s what these [graduating] classes are all about,” explained Dr. West. “You all constitute the glue that holds together this fragile democracy undergoing and unraveling and if we don’t stand up in the name of the Charles Drews and others, who will?”
Additionally, Dr. West spoke about the importance of being a beacon of light in the face of overwhelming catastrophe. “Never give up on your light, never give up on your calling, never give up on your vocation, let us work together, struggle together, and never forget about your magnificent experience in this historic institution with our memories of the best and our willingness to serve those who come after,” said Dr. West.
LaShon Williams was the student speaker at the MMDSON ceremony in the morning. She delivered a fiery speech that challenged all graduates to keep pushing for change. “I want graduates to spread this globally, be the voice and hands of change, don’t sit back when you can make a difference and know that we all need change… Together we can make a difference.”
Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Interim Provost and Dean, College of Medicine, applauded the graduates for their tenacity in pursuit of their degrees. She acknowledged the stresses and traumas over the past few years that include the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the threats against historically black universities, and the increase in domestic terrorism.
“You have had to study and remain focused in a very challenging context,” remarked Dr. Prothrow-Stith. “Your success is a statement of your capacity, competence, persistence, and grit. These qualities will serve you well as you embark on your next steps as leaders for social justice and health equity.”
Physician and public health leader, LaMar Hasbrouck, served as keynote speaker for the afternoon Commencement Ceremony for the College of Medicine and the College of Science and Health. He delivered a passionate address affirming their purpose as healthcare professionals.
“You fortunately have volunteered for a most splendid profession, and one that has equipped you to love through service, and serve with unabashed love, a profession that empowers you to heal the cynical world one patient at a time, one kind gesture at a time,” exclaimed Dr. Hasbrouck, a Dean’s Scholar who graduated from the Drew-UCLA medical program in 1994.
Student speakers at the College of Medicine and College of Science and Health ceremony were Mikiko Thelwell and Namrta Gil, respectively.
Ms. Gil took time to call out the CDU Faculty for their contribution to the graduates’ journeys, stating “the dedicated faculty who ceaselessly inspire us to push beyond our limits and the brilliant and unique classmates who come from different walks of life have been impactful individuals during this college experience.”
Ms. Thelwell had praise for her fellow classmates, concluding her speech by taking time “to reiterate to my classmates how incredibly proud I am to have learned alongside each and every one of you on this journey.”
The event came to fruition following months of work by CDU staff and faculty, current students, alumni, vendors, and community members who were all on hand for the special day. Originally slated to take place on campus, the event was moved to Dignity Health Sports Park to accommodate the attendance of more friends and family to support and celebrate the amazing accomplishment of the CDU graduates.