Graduation Celebration 2023

2023 Graduation Celebration

students at graduation

The 2023 School of Public Health Graduation

On June 11, we recognized our students from the class of 2023 as they celebrated their graduation from the UW School of Public Health. We are incredibly proud of our undergraduate and graduate alumni! As part of our celebration, we delighted in the words of SPH Alumni of Impact, Alejandro Varela, as he delivered “welcome to the profession” remarks to eager students and their families.

SPH Graduation Program (pdf)

Watch Graduation Speeches


Download Here

Congratulations, graduates! If you are interested in ordering graduation photos, contact our vendor GradImages, at the following link: You may be hearing from them soon to purchase photos, too!


Will there be a virtual component to the graduation this year and how can I login?

  • This year’s SPH Graduation Celebration is an IN-PERSON ONLY event. In past years we had virtual components due to the pandemic but those will not be in place this year.

Do attendees have to RSVP? 

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

When will we hear more information? 

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

Can we order regalia? 

What is the dress code should I not decide to wear regalia?

  • We suggest that graduates dress in a manner they feel fits the occasion of the SPH Graduation Celebration; if not a cap and gown, then clothing with personal or cultural significance, or simply a nice outfit.

Are tickets needed to enter?

  • No.  Since we are back in the Alaska Airlines Arena, tickets are not needed. We are not limiting guests this year.

If I have a mobility or access accommodation, who can I talk to about this? 

  • Please indicate any mobility or access needs in the RSVP. For further support, please contact 

Where can I leave my coat and purse during the graduation?

  • Please take your personal belongings with you to your seats, we will not have a coat rack available. Try to travel light!

How long is the ceremony?

  • 2.5 hours, with a one-hour reception immediately following. 

Can I leave the ceremony after my name is called with my program or department?

Graduates should remain in their seats during the entire ceremony, unless utilizing the restrooms. Once your name has been called, you are to return to your seat to respect and honor the graduation celebrations of your SPH student colleagues and to cheer them on!

Parking. Where do I park? How much is parking?

Can I bring my own food and beverages to this event? 

  • Graduates and guests can bring their own water bottles. We will be serving coffee at the reception only, so if you choose to bring your own coffee in the morning please finish it before you enter the event. Food is not permitted at the event. 
  • A reminder regarding UW’s Alcohol & Drug Use Policy: To help ensure the safety and well-being of employees, students, volunteers, and the general public, the University of Washington is committed to maintaining a campus environment that is free of illegal drugs, and of drugs and alcohol that are used illegally. (citation) The UWSPH requires all guests & graduates to adhere to University policy. 

Alejandro Varela

Alejandro Varela, MPH '06 is the SPH Alumni Impact Award recipient and will serve as the graduation speaker this year. The Alumni Impact Award recognizes a School of Public Health graduate with a demonstrated record of meaningful service and achievement across public health disciplines and settings who inspires future public health leaders.

Alejandro Varela (he/him) is a writer based in New York. His fiction incorporates public health themes, particularly around the chronic stress of living in hierarchical society. Prior to his writing career, Varela worked as a cancer researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he studied the screening behaviors of East Harlem residents; in conjunction with I-TECH, he wrote HIV/AIDS-related training curriculum for the government workers of various ministries of health; and he taught policy advocacy and public health and film to graduate students at Brooklyn's Long Island University, focusing specifically on the value of narrative and the importance of community-led interventions. His debut novel, The Town of Babylon (2022), was published by Astra House and was a finalist for the National Book Award, as well as a nominee for the PEN America Open Book Award and the Aspen Literary Prize. His work has appeared in The Point Magazine, Georgia Review, Boston Review, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The Offing, among others outlets. Varela is an editor-at-large of Apogee Journal, a literary magazine that centers historically marginalized writers and artists. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Washington. 

Lesley E Steinman
Health Systems and Population Health

Lesley Steinman, PhD, MSW, MPH (she/her) is a Research Scientist at UW SPH’s Health Promotion Research Center. She partners with community-based social service organizations to disseminate and implement a home/community-based collaborative care model for depression (PEARLS) and other proven programs for healthy aging. Guided by implementation science and health equity frameworks, they conduct community-engaged research, evaluation, training and technical assistance to understand, adapt, and improve program delivery to address inequities in access to care and health outcomes among underserved older adults in low-resource settings. Lesley’s other passion is spending time outdoors with family and friends in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Read about Lesley

Carole Green
Global Health

Carole Green is a stellar MPH student, focusing on how climate change is affecting human health and well-being. Carole is making significant academic contributions to the field through the Lancet Countdown, which was formed as a global monitoring system to engage policymakers to promote reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate-resilient health systems. She ensures the production of scientifically robust indicators and synthesizes indicators into new insights. Carole’s thesis topic will break new ground in monitoring adaptive capacity, to better understand the extent to which health systems are increasing their abilities to manage the health risks of climate change.

Read about Carole

Bridget Ury
Environmental Health

Bridget Ury will graduate with both a BS in Environmental Health and a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington. She is also being recognized as the 2023 Outstanding Undergraduate Student by both the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) and the School of Public Health.

Read about Bridget

  • Currently, verification of vaccination status or proof of a recent negative test for COVID-19, are not required for entry into this event. Wearing a mask is optional but highly encouraged. Requirements may change as we approach Commencement, so please check back frequently.

  • For more information on UW public health guidance, please visit: