HSPH alumna/professor celebrates 60-year connection to Harvard

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“There are two important things in my life,” said Isabelle Valadian, M.P.H. ’53, “my parents and my life at the Harvard School of Public Health [HSPH].” To honor both, Isa (as she prefers to be called) established a series of gift annuities in support of financial aid at HSPH as part of the Gohar and Valad Valadian Fund, named in memory of her mother and father.

Although, as with typical annuities, Isa could continue to receive income for the rest of her life, she recently made the choice to give up her income from the annuities so that the fellowship could be activated during her lifetime. She noted, “When I made the gifts, there was one thing that made me sad: I would not be able to see them realized, but when I found out that I could activate the gifts if I gave up my annuity income, I did not hesitate.”

Isa’s more than 60-year career at Harvard began in 1949 when she arrived in Boston from Beirut, Lebanon, for a pediatric fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Though originally from Georgia, she grew up and attended schools in Iran (then known as Persia), Lebanon, and France, receiving a medical degree from the French University in Beirut.

She then went on to a fellowship in pediatrics at the University of Paris Faculty of Medicine before making the journey to Boston. After securing visas for herself and her parents, she moved with her family to the United States and pursued her interest in public health at HSPH.