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David Michaels

With his son in his arms, Karim Thomas Sadak accepts his master of public health in epidemiology Saturday. Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jenna Bernick.

School of Public Health and Health Services graduates were charged with a hefty challenge Saturday: heal the world.

David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, warned that despite having reached the finish line, students shouldn’t get too comfortable.

“The finish line is about to move,” he said.

His speech, anchored around the past “remarkable century” of public health triumphs, reminded students that education cannot end upon graduation.

He spoke of public health issues abroad and in the U.S., like last month’s Bangladesh building collapse, to push students to improve the lives of migrant workers.

“The world is changing fast, faster than ever, and you must keep learning if you want to keep up…clocking in and out isn’t enough,” he said.

Dean of the public health school Lynn Goldman, too, challenged graduates. ”We now depend on you to heal this world,” she said.

Student speaker Samantha White, graduating with a master of public health, asked students to identify what gets them “fired up” in the world of public health and to champion that cause.

White traveled to India last summer, where she worked at an NGO that focused on girls’ and women’s health issues. White said her friend Elizabeth Barnett, another MPH graduate, was at her side in India and had already cultivated her passion.

“It was so cool to hear her talk about something that happened and how it’s really all of our job now to find something that we’re passionate about and go forward and do something about it,” Barnett said after the celebration.

Alex Mizenko, who earned a bachelor of science in public health and will attend Columbia University for his MPH, said after the ceremony that he is confident in the graduates’ abilities to rise to the challenges the speakers presented.

“I thought the keynote speech was excellent and you know obviously it suggests a lot of responsibility but I think we’re up to the task with the education we’ve been given here in the school of public health so I’m ready for it,” he said.

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David Michaels

David Michaels

A GW research professor in the School of Public Health and Health Services will be nominated as the assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the White House announced Tuesday.

David Michaels, who previously served as the assistant secretary of energy for environment, safety and health in the Clinton administration, will be responsible for leading OSHA, which seeks to prevent injuries, illnesses and death in American workplaces.

Michaels’ nomination requires confirmation from the Senate.

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