Graduation Celebration 2021

2021 Graduation Celebration

students at graduation

The 2021 (Virtual) School of Public Health Graduation

Date: Sunday, June 13, 2021

View our virtual webcast here!

2021 Graduation Celebration Program

Graduation Speakers

  • Emma Spickard – BS 2019, Public Health-Global Health (College Honors)
  • Dr. Helen Chu – MPH 2012, Epidemiology
  • Dr. Jeff Leek – MS 2005, PhD 2007, Biostatistics



On Sunday July 13, SPH held a Purple Carpet and graduation watch party! On the Purple Carpet, we’ll see photos and videos submitted by graduates, and hear inspiring messages from faculty, staff and friends of the School.

To send a congratulatory message, or wish your graduate well, use the hashtag #UWSPHgrad21

Please stay tuned for more information on the 2021 UWSPH Graduation Celebration or email SPH Student Academic Services staff at!


Do attendees have to RSVP? 

o   Yes, if you are planning to attend the Graduation Celebration, please RSVP here. Reminder: If you would like a graduation gift, please remember to submit your RSVP!   

Will the UW SPH Graduation Celebration be virtual? 

o   Yes. The UW SPH Graduation Celebration will be virtual, following UW Commencement’s and Seattle King County’s guidance on hosting large gatherings.  

Who will be the graduation speakers?

  • Emma Spickard – BS 2019, Public Health-Global Health (College Honors)
  • Dr. Helen Chu – MPH 2012, Epidemiology
  • Dr. Jeff Leek – MS 2005, PhD 2007, Biostatistics

When will we hear more information? 

o   Please check your @uw email for more information! If you think you may have missed an important communication, please email

Can we order regalia? 

o   Visit the UW Commencement page, as well as monitor your UW email for more information!


Emma Spickard – BS 2019, Public Health-Global Health (College Honors)

Emma just returned from an eight-month solo trip through South America and Southeast Asia as a UW Bonderman Fellow, during which she experienced firsthand the value of equitable health care for all as well as the utilization of other ways of healing. As a senior, Emma received the UW President’s Medal, the highest honor awarded to undergraduates. She was recognized for her academic accomplishments and her work with the greater Seattle community.

Committed to changing the narrative around homelessness, Emma partnered with Real Change, a local nonprofit, to facilitate important community conversations around a proposed plan to redevelop unused Army land into affordable housing. She helped organize a public panel of stakeholders, including unhoused individuals. She furthered this work by collaborating with another UW student to create a video dispelling common misperceptions about houselessness. During her undergraduate career, Emma helped to organize an informational panel to prepare UW students to take part in Legislative Education Day, when public health advocates convene in Olympia to educate lawmakers about the importance of public health funding. She now brings her passion for public health and health equity into her work as campaign manager for a progressive candidate for the Washington House of Representatives.

Affiliations: Campaign Manager, Liz Berry for State House; UW Bonderman Fellow, 2019

Dr. Helen Chu – MPH 2012, Epidemiology

Helen is at the heart of Seattle's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her courageous decision to repurpose testing for a local flu study to identify COVID-19 cases in the face of federal and state restrictions may have saved thousands of lives. The flu study lab identified the first known U.S. case of community transmission. Their results ultimately accelerated public health efforts to track the spread of the virus in Seattle and to mitigate the emerging pandemic.

An infectious disease specialist, Helen co-leads the Seattle Flu Study, which had been collecting nasal swabs from Puget Sound area residents with flu-like symptoms for months before the new virus turned up in America. The study has since shifted to focus on COVID-19, specifically expanding an effort to send test kits to homes throughout the city. Helen is also leading various studies to understand the disease and how the body might overcome it, including an assessment of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19 and a look at ways to prevent transmission among vulnerable groups such as those living without homes.

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Medicine - Allergy and Infectious Disease, University of Washington; Adjunct Associate Professor, Epidemiology, UW School of Public Health; Adjunct Associate Professor, Global Health, UW Schools of Public Health and of Medicine; Attending Physician, Infectious Diseases, Harborview Medical Center, UW Medicine

Dr. Jeff Leek – MS 2005, PhD 2007, Biostatistics

Jeff is an innovative data scientist and educator whose work has had far-reaching impacts on molecular biology, cancer research and neuroscience. His lab seeks to understand variation in human gene expression and how it relates to normal development and disease. He also is helping to create a new field that studies the ways people use and understand data, which has important implications for the spread of false information on social media and the reliability of published data. Jeff is committed to making data science accessible to students and people in a variety of professions around the world. He has developed and taught several massive online open courses (MOOCs) that have provided affordable statistics instruction to more than 8 million students globally. Most recently, he has been partnering with community-based organizations to teach data science in underserved communities as a path to economic and public health development. Known for being incredibly generous with his time, Jeff has served on many national and international panels and charitable organizations focused on breast cancer, adverse pregnancy outcomes and advancing bioinformatics research.

Affiliations: Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Biostatistics


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