DGHI Honors 42 Master of Science in Global Health Graduates

May 15, 2018
Melissa Watt
Melissa Watt, associate professor and director of the Master of Science in Global Health program, gave the commencement address. Photo by Jim Wallace.

Last Friday, the Duke Global Health Institute celebrated commencement with 42 new Master of Science in Global Health graduates. 


DGHI director Christopher Plowe opened the ceremony, welcoming the graduates and their guests. “You now have a foundation of knowledge and technical skills to make a difference in the lives of the communities you work with,” he said. “But more than that, you have your humanity. You’ve shown yourselves to be curious, passionate and committed to social justice.”

Plowe encouraged the graduates to stay true to their values and nurture them in others. “And if you do,” he said, “I promise the world will feel the impact of your work.” 


In her address, Melissa Watt, associate professor and director of the Master of Science in Global Health program, noted that commencement is a day of celebration, appreciation and reflection. 

She reflected on the role of the graduates’ values in their growth as global health students: “Your values brought you into our program, they propelled you over the past two years, and they lay the foundation for your next phase as changemakers in global health,” she said. But, she cautioned, while their values should guide them, she encouraged them to “be sure that you are equipped with evidence, with the power of science.”

Watt invoked the familiar Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and told the graduating class that they’re “the change I want to see in this world.” 


This year’s graduate commencement speaker, Shashika Bandara, reflected on three takeaways from his journey while at DGHI: inspiration, support and empathy for “the other.” 

“Remember the inspiration that is within you and the support that is around you—and remember that your empathy matters that much more,” he urged his classmates. And he wished them all the inspiration, support and empathy as the “enter the business of making the world a better place.”

Bandara, who hails from Kandy, Sri Lanka, holds an English and biology double major from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Last summer, he completed the Duke Global Policy (DGP) Program in Geneva and interned at the World Health Organization developing a concept note to measure access to drugs in member states. 

Under the mentorship of global health professor Jeffrey Moe, Bandara focused his thesis on understanding access barriers to bedaquiline, a drug for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, globally and in South Africa. Based on his research data, he developed policy recommendations related to the priority review voucher. 

In the long term, Bandara plans to extend his master’s thesis research, pursuing a PhD in a topic related to access to medicine.

Listen to the full remarks by Plowe, Watt and Bandara.

Watch the recognition of graduates.

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Shashika Bandara was selected by his classmates as the student commencement speaker. Photo by Jim Wallace.

DGHI celebrated commencement with 42 new Master of Science in Global Health graduates.

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