On May 13, 105 newly minted graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Global Health programs of the Keck School of Medicine of USC cheered as Program Director and Associate Dean Elahe Nezami, PhD, told them to “Fight on!” one last time after announcing their degree completion.

Held in the Town and Gown Ballroom in the center of USC’s University Park Campus, sparkling chandeliers and high vaulted ceilings lent an elegance to the undergraduate ceremony that highlighted the achievements of the students for their families and friends who had gathered to see the proceedings. Keck School Interim Dean Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, was among the school’s leadership present at the celebration.

The commencement speech was given by Jonathan Samet, MD, director of the USC Institute for Global Health and Distinguished Professor and Flora L. Thornton Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, who applied his own expertise to the occasion, providing statistics and comparisons for graduates to consider between life at the time of his own undergraduate graduation and today to show how much change happens and how much is yet to come.

Two student speakers also made the day special – Grace Amoo and Troy Sekimura. Amoo’s remarks focused on how her time at USC had taught her about the value of hard work and perseverance even when disappointments and challenges arise. The entire crowd was moved to applause as Grace emotionally thanked her family for their support and inspiration, which helped her achieve the goal of gaining admission to USC’s doctoral program in physical therapy.

Sekimura’s speech provided laughter and smiles for all assembled as he reflected on his own fears about the next steps he will take, and remarked on how comfortable he had become as a member of the Trojan Family, as well as how prepared he would be for those next steps. Ready to begin medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA this fall, Sekimura thanked his family and friends for helping guide him along the way.

After the graduates processed out of the ballroom, guests enjoyed light fare on the Town and Gown patio where hugs and smiles were abundant.

— Elahe Nezami