HSPH graduates told that career flexibility key to personal, professional growth

2 min read

In his opening message at the 2012 Commencement ceremony on May 24, Dean Julio Frenk spoke about the importance of “career plasticity.”

He quoted Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, who said, “Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try.” Explaining why he chose to quote a business person instead of someone like Einstein, Pasteur, or even Plato, Frenk said that “tightly-defined career paths … are no longer the only routes to personal and professional achievement” for graduates of Harvard School of Public Health.

Frenk noted that the day’s commencement speaker, HSPH alumnus Gerald Chan, went on to a “bold, non-traditional career path” as an entrepreneur and innovator, but has continued to work on improving people’s health.

“No government—even that of the wealthiest nation—can afford to pay for all of the scientific research and public health programs that we require to keep people healthy,” Frenk said. “As a result, it is vital that we have people educated in science and public health who see opportunities where others see barriers—who are comfortable moving easily between the worlds of government, business, civil society, and academia, to improve people’s health.”