Start of BU 2021 | BU today
The president of the BU Commencement 2021, Noubar Afeyan (Hon.’21), declares that COVID-19 will not be the last challenge for the talents of graduates
COVID-19 hovered over BU’s 148th masked and socially remote launch ceremony at Nickerson Field on Sunday morning, but in a good way – as an example of the power of science and as a challenge for graduates during the morning graduate diploma ceremony.
“You are finishing your graduate degrees in the midst of a pandemic that has forced you to pave the way for a degree in a way never seen before,” said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and president of Moderna Therapeutics, Inc., to graduates, many of whom had likely received the coronavirus vaccine from his company. “The question I want to ask you is the following: after today and after the pandemic, will you remain a pioneer?”
Last January, just 2 days after Moderna learned of the genetic sequence of the coronavirus, “we had the design of our mRNA vaccine, and just 42 days later we delivered the first doses to the National Institutes of Health for tests, ”Afeyan said with gratitude applause.
He spoke of a revolution in healthcare to focus on protection and early detection rather than reaction and treatment. “And I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will: I believe in science and its ability to help make this revolution happen, just as it is showing the way today to defeat COVID-19.” ”
Afeyan told the story of Shields Warren (CAS 1918), the grandson of the first president of Boston University, whose last name is inscribed on the Warren Towers. Shields Warren graduated from BU in 1918 and was to pursue a doctorate in zoology, but he enlisted to fight in World War I and was sent to Kentucky for training, where he became ill from the pandemic. deadly flu that was then going around the world. Lying in the infirmary, Warren decided to rewrite his future. He abandoned zoology and became a physician, becoming one of the world’s foremost medical experts in radiation and founder of the Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; he was also a director of the BU for 30 years.
“Looking back on his life, he said seeing so many people suffer and die in a pandemic has helped him learn to ignore fear,” Afeyan said. “His fearlessness aided his pursuit of revolutionary science. These are the footsteps that we should all follow. “
Afeyan noted that more viruses will inevitably spread across the world, alongside pandemics of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes and drug addiction. These threats can be detected much earlier and hopefully avoided, he said. This will require the work of not only healthcare providers, scientists and engineers, but also experts in politics, race, law, education, psychology and human behavior.
I believe in science and its ability to contribute to this revolution, just as today it is leading the way to defeat COVID-19.
“A future of health security will need your expertise, your curiosity and your courage,” Afeyan said. “So, graduates: let this last year assert your capacity for innovation in the face of the unknown. Use your education to imagine the impossible and be the kind of trailblazer who relentlessly seeks a better world. “
Afeyan and Catherine D’Amato, longtime president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, received an honorary doctorate in humanities as part of the morning graduate graduation ceremony. Fadie Coleman (CAS’97, MED’16), assistant professor of medical sciences and education at the School of Medicine, was also honored, one of the recipients of this year’s two Metcalf awards for teaching excellence. . The Metcalf Cup and Award and the Metcalf Awards for Teaching Excellence are the University’s highest teaching honors.
University President Robert A. Brown began work by noting how the pandemic had radically changed campus life since the start of 2020. “Fifteen months ago, no one could have imagined the path that you would borrow to get to the ceremony today, ”Brown said. “You have become the masters of Zoom and have accepted wearing a mask as a daily routine.”
He applauded the The BU community’s efforts to keep the campus safe, adding a touch of humor about the coronavirus tests: “To date, we have taken a million samples. We have the cleanest nose in town.
But as Brown closed the ceremony, he, like Afeyan, noted the potential of the 2021 class to tackle the next pandemic and other issues facing the world.
“On your shoulders rests the enormous responsibility of guiding America and the world and meeting the significant challenges we face,” he said. “You are the future of this university, this country and humanity. Your training at Boston University has prepared you. Go out into the world and make it a better place. Congratulations again and good luck everyone! “
The weather was warm but started out as overcast as university officials recognized 3,217 graduate degree holders, of whom 2,125 graduated with a master’s degree. In the afternoon, a separate ceremony will reward the 3,681 graduates of the 2021 promotion.
Explore related topics: