Next time anybody asks me why I came into public health, he/she is going to get this story. If I could do even 1/1000 of what Maurice Hilleman accomplished I'd be much happier than I earned fame, recognition and money (not that I mind that though
). More can be read about Maurice Hillman here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Hilleman
Professor David Hemenway from the Department of Health Policy Management at HSPH is a renowned expert on injury prevention. He gave a talk in the beginning of fall 2009 that coincided with the entry of the class of 2010. Professor Hemenway showed us pictures of famous doctors (e.g. Louis Pasteur, Dr.Bernard, etc). Someone from the audience would always end up identifying the name. Then he flashed a picture of Maurice Hilleman. The audience sat silent. Professor Hemenway looked at us and said this man is credited with saving the most human lives in the history of mankind. This man developed the vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningitis, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae. He has saved more children from dying than many many men put together. Yet he didn't earn fame and recognition. If any of you have any disillusions that the path of public health would be easy and earn you money you are badly mistaken. You would however get the opportunity to change the lives of millions and millions.
How can you put words to a year in which you sit on the beaches of Miami , gaze at the splendors of Niagra, look down the Rockfeller Center, sail towards the Statue of Liberty, party late into the night in the Space Needle, and attend graduation at the Harvard Yard? What can you say about a year compressed into long hours of work , unimaginable amount of stress and sometimes a Himalayan mountain load of readings?
Words can't do justice to the immense gratitude and thanks I feel for the Fulbright Program and HSPH. For once I didn't have to feel resistance to my dreams. People didn't have long discussions with me on why my dreams were naive and impossible to achieve like I had been struggling to deal with the many years before grad school, instead they sat down to help lay out the building blocks to MY dreams. I got a chance to be ME and not be dictated by what the world wanted. I took courses driven by my passion and desire rather than a predefined path. I got a chance to make my OWN road.
Today sitting at the Yard and then at HSPH I felt extremely lucky and honored to have known all the Fulbrighters and HSPHians that came across my path this year. I might not get the chance to talk to everybody before I leave, but I can assure you that I am extremely thankful to have had a chance to work, study and party with you. I wish you all the best in life and hope to meet you once again at one point or the other in life.