LSTM has held its annual graduation ceremony today, being held virtually and delayed from its usual December slot to ensure that all graduands could celebrate this milestone event, irrespective of where they are in the world and avoid the COVID-19 associated challenges of travel during a global pandemic.
A total of 233 students graduated, including the first cohort of graduates from the LEAP (Leadership Education Academic Partnership) Programme in Humanitarian Practice, a flexible and interdisciplinary programme for humanitarian workers, developed by LSTM, the University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) and Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
The ceremony was opened with a welcome from LSTM’s Director, Professor David Lalloo. Commenting on the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the impact that this has had on their studies, he congratulated the Class of 2021, for their hard work and determination under very difficult circumstances.
He explained to the graduating cohort that holding the ceremony virtually meant that it allowed us all to recognise their achievements wherever they are in the world. “I would like to thank you for the amazing way you have worked with our lecturers, education teams, facilitators, administrators and all staff to ensure that your studies could continue in the most efficient way possible despite the difficulties and challenges. You should be incredibly proud of what you have achieved despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic, and we are certainly proud of you. I would like to welcome you to the LSTM global community, and we look forward to working with many of you in the future.”
As part of the ceremony LSTM conferred honorary Doctor of Science Degrees to Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu and Professor Charlotte Watts.
Dr Ihekweazu is a medical epidemiologist by training who went from a clinical career to one in public health, as he puts it, by circumstances rather than design. Now the Deputy Director General of the WHO, leading the new pandemic intelligence hub in Berlin, he encouraged the class of 2021 to look sideways and value their networks as much as their skills.
He said: “it is really an incredible honour to be given this award by the entire community of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. This learning journey of many of my co-graduates today will begin a lifetime of learning and giving; of acquiring friends, knowledge and networks that will guide you for the rest of your career."
“I accept this award with a lot of humility, and I hope that my journey contributes to the journey of many others as we work together to build a future that we all want to live in.”
Professor Charlotte Watts started her academic career as a theoretical mathematician before taking a Master’s degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and retraining in public health. Now the Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of Research and Evidence at the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), she had three pieces of advice for the Class of 2021:
“I feel privileged and honoured to be awarded this degree today and be part of this ceremony. I want to thank LSTM not just for this award but for their significant contribution to health both domestically and globally, including in support of the COVID response. I have three pieces of advice for all of those graduating today: to follow your passion, to engage with big ideas and use your skills to make a difference and to continue to learn and be open to new opinions and views."
"Many of you will go on to have important roles in health. Please use the skills you have learned and the networks you have developed while at LSTM to make a difference.”
Following congratulations from Jim McKenna, Chair of LSTM’s Board of Trustees, the ceremony was brought to a virtual close by LSTM’s President Sir Richard Evans CBE.
LSTM’s Graduation Lead and Director of Partnerships, Michael Lurie, said: "Our students are truly inspirational and have successfully completed intense study during a global pandemic. The knowledge, skills and competencies they have gained will now contribute to a network of global health leaders. We are so proud to have supported their journey at LSTM."
Read also LEAD: LSTM's Graduation Magazine: Issue 4 including interviews with our honorary degree recipients.
A total of 11 students graduated from LSTM having received scholarship support for their studies. Find out more about how you can support future global health leaders to study at LSTM.