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College of Health Solutions graduates take joy in celebrating at in-person ceremony

The mood was festive at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe where ASU College of Health Solutions students, their families and friends gathered to mark the milestone of graduation, the first time a convocation ceremony has been held in person since 2019.

With masks on and physical distancing observed, almost 500 students processed, along with Health Solutions faculty and staff, at a Dec. 16 ceremony marked by more bursts of applause than usual as graduates and guests alike expressed their joy at being able to be together to celebrate. Some 2020 and spring 2021 grads also came to walk the stage since the COVID-19 pandemic had limited their graduations to virtual or hybrid ceremonies.

Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions, addressed the crowd, noting the collective experience of living and learning through a pandemic as well as the training and support students received to prepare them to improve health.

“I am truly in awe of all that your generation is already doing to make a difference in the world of health, and I’m confident the future of health is in your very capable hands,” she said.

Keynote speaker Jeff Taylor echoed a similar view about the transformative power of health professionals. A top-ranked Arizona collegiate football player whose life spiraled out of control after a career-ending injury led to addiction, homelessness and prison, Taylor said it was dedicated behavioral health professionals who finally helped him turn his life around.

“I’m here to thank the educators because they taught the professionals who saved my life, and as a result, my 22-year-old son, who is here today, has never known his father to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You have created a miracle,” he said.

Today Taylor is a registered lobbyist and national speaker who writes and promotes policies and laws to combat homelessness and reduce recidivism among Arizona’s prison population.

Relive Fall 2021 Convocation in the livestream recording of the ceremony, and enjoy this special celebration video.

Graduation spotlight

Meet some of the College of Health Solutions' most impressive health leaders:

Read about the career journeys of some of the college's graduates:

And below, learn about the plans graduates shared on the College of Health Solutions' social media channels.

Kelly Krause
krkrause@asu.edu