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Alumni Address: BPI Alum Delivers Remarks for Public Health Graduates

Hancy Maxis ‘15 was voted to address the faculty, administrators, and his fellow students, along with their families and friends at the virtual graduation ceremony for Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Health Policy and Management Department. BPI faculty, staff, and alumni tuned in to join the special ceremony. Hancy completed his Master of Health Administration this spring, 2020. Hancy was a BPI Public Health Fellow (2018-19) and is currently the Fellows Mentor for the program.


Thursday, May 14, 2020
Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health: Health Policy and Management Commencement


Graduates, families, and friends:

Today’s graduation ceremony marks a very special event at a unique moment. Obviously, this graduation ceremony is taking place in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and the scope of the pandemic has revealed a lot to us.

Globally, over 4 million people have suffered, and 300,000 people have paid the ultimate cost. The global economy has come to a halt. And across the world, leaders and families alike are now facing the effect of COVID-19 on children.

And in the U.S., coronavirus has also revealed some of our old divisions like structural inequality and mass incarceration. Black and Brown people across the nation have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. And in New York State prisons, there are as many confirmed COVID-19 cases as there are in the entire state of Montana.

Coronavirus has also forced everyone to erect personal barriers. We now hold once-in-a-lifetime events—like this one—through Zoom. And, six feet of social distance and a mask are now mandatory.

But let me offer you another way of looking at this moment.

Coronavirus has also taught us that we are all in this together; that we are all human and therefore fallible and susceptible to disease. And that everything we do depends on public health.

So, although the world we knew three months ago may seem broken; that also means the world has to be rebuilt. And this MHA class is perfectly placed to build a new and better world. A world that tears down barriers that have separated us because we know that health is a human right.

Our opportunity is to build a world that brings the best to the rest, because we—tomorrow’s leaders—were taught by the best. We have an opportunity to build a world that rewards education and drive above race, gender, orientation, or even past incarceration. A world that looks for the best in people, and builds on that.

And we have all been trained to take ownership of that world. We are graduating from the best school of public health. So that means that you and I have been trained to clearly identify a problem, think it through, propose the best solution, and execute.

We are already leaders.

But equally as important, we’ve all become friends.
In this class, I have friends that happen to also be leaders in consulting, venture capital, insurance, and hospitals. So, if I have a problem I can call my friend Emily. She is a leader at NYU. Or I can call my dude Karan. He is a leader at M.G.H. 我也可以打电话给我的朋友万新. 她是金融专家.

And last but not least, I want to say that this accomplishment, this moment is for my mom.
Mom, you’ve been my cheerleader and supporter at every point, even when I didn’t believe in myself.
You taught me that what is important in life is to positively affect the lives of others.
You are my (s)hero!
I love you.

Thank you, everyone, and congratulations!

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