The National Institute of Public Health (INSP) of Mexico held its 98th graduation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 4, for 172 students from the School of Public Health of Mexico (ESPM) which, due to the global health emergency caused by Covid-19, and in order to maintain a healthy distance, was carried out virtually.
After a brief welcome video that invited graduates to celebrate their academic achievement, Dr. Juan Rivera Dommarco, General Director of INSP, took the floor and assured them that working in public health requires great commitment, effort, integrity and much passion. Live from the Guillermo Soberón auditorium at the main headquarters of the INSP in Cuernavaca, that, he pointed out, he had not visited for six months, he told the graduates: "You all are part of a generation marked by covid-19."
Dr. Rivera shared various reflections on the lessons of the pandemic underscoring the need to preserve the integrity of ecosystems and thus reduce the risks of future pandemics. “The pandemic has taught us as a species to be less arrogant. Neither wealth nor technological advances have protected us from a tiny virus that has put at risk the lives of millions of people. We cannot isolate ourselves from nature much less from members of human race. We are all in the same boat called Earth, we are, above all, part of nature. Our destiny is linked to our planet. The pandemic has also taught us to value the opportunities for coexistence with those around us and the need to demonstrate love for one another and not underestimate the gift of friendship and affection. In the new normalcy, we must treasure our loved ones. We must not become obsessed with material goods.
“The covid-19 pandemic has taught us to be humble as scientists and as public health professionals. We are facing a new disease about which we learn every day. It has made us face great challenges. The pandemic is active; it is not over. Today the country needs all of you and expects a lot from you. I reiterate my congratulations to the graduates and their families; remember that INSP is and will always be your home.”
Following the general director’s words, Dr. Eduardo Lazcano Ponce, INSP Academic Dean, reminded the graduates of their societal commitment: “by obtaining a graduate degree, everyone assumes a commitment to double their effort to contribute to raising the population’s health levels through the production, reproduction, dissemination and use of scientific knowledge”.
Dr. Lazcano summoned graduates to the permanent search for scientific excellence and relevance of decision making. “Your practice as professionals will give you all public influence but not power. It engenders appreciation and respect but only as long as you act honestly and competently. The ESPM has provided you all the basis, has shown everyone direction, work discipline and reasoning. Recognize the need to maintain your professional competency to avoid knowledge obsolescence. Always maintain appreciation and gratitude for the institution that forged you in this new stage of your lives and for the degree you obtained. Always wear it with the clean decorum of someone who has won a blazon for their emblem”.
Dr. Lazcano ceded the floor to Dr. Laura Magaña, Class Sponsor, President of the Association of Schools and Public Health Programs of the United States (ASPPH) and former INSP Academic Dean (2005-2017), who in an emotional message to the graduates, reminded them the importance of being a healthcare worker today. “The whole world is focused on seeking solutions from public health. Right now everyone is realizing the importance of our profession and you are joining this task at a crucial juncture in humanity history; 2020 will always be remembered for generations to come and you are the 2020 generation. You have a very special mission in life.
“I am convinced that public health is a calling. Our profession implies total dedication to the common good, to the advancement of initiatives that manage to see the impact on entire communities, to generate scientific evidence for the advancement of science and human development. Our profession advocates for social justice and is the voice of the invisible. This profession celebrates its achievements and recognizes what remains to be done”, Magaña said.
She highlighted the role of INSP, its researchers, professors and ESPM graduates. “All of them have a presence on the public agenda, contributing ideas and making enormous decisions regarding the pandemic. Right now, I am sure that I am looking at the leaders, researchers, practitioners, activists, and policy makers who will heal our broken world. Allow me to offer three pieces of advice as every sponsor should: 1) Persist; 2) Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn, fail forward; 3) Never stop strengthening your human skills, be empathetic, brave, generous. The world urgently needs these skills. It is the moment of public health. The current situation validates this career choice in a way that none of us could have imagined. Generation 2020: the world is waiting for your leadership to transform it”.
INSP-ESPM congratulates its 172 graduates. Congratulations!