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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci urges leadership and public service during Vanderbilt Graduates Day address

Fauci emphasized the importance of leadership, responsibility and unity upon entering a post-pandemic world.
Screenshot of Dr. Fauci from Vanderbilt News. (Hustler Staff/Charlotte Mauger)

On Friday, May 14, at 11 a.m. CDT, Dr. Anthony Fauci delivered Vanderbilt’s Class of 2021’s Graduates Day address. He spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic, urging leadership by example, as graduates will play an essential role in shaping the post-pandemic world.

“You enter a hurting and changed world, and the new normal to which we return may not be the normal that was in early 2020,” Fauci said. 

He stated that graduates began their journey to become leaders when they enrolled at Vanderbilt, and the low positivity rate on Vanderbilt’s campus throughout the academic year was a testament to their success as leaders.

“The adjustments that you will have to make in order to function in the world that awaits you are substantial,” Fauci said. “You managed to keep the university open and functioning while achieving a lower than expected infection rate.” 

Fauci also highlighted the underlying societal issues the pandemic shed a light on, particularly healthcare disparities between racial groups.

“COVID-19 disproportionately affects racial minority groups due to the nature of the jobs that many of them have as essential workers in society,” Fauci said. 

He stated that this disparity was an issue before the pandemic and will continue due to the social determinants of health—lack of access to adequate diet, lack of access to healthcare and the restrictions put upon them by systemic racism. Fauci warned that these discrepancies will not fade after the pandemic and urged the graduates to engage in public service following graduation. 

He then addressed the political divisiveness that the pandemic has uncovered, imploring graduates to keep an open mind as they face opposing political ideologies in their futures. 

“Tragically, the pandemic brought to the surface the intense and glaring divisiveness of our society that led to the practice of proven public health countermeasures—such as wearing a mask—taking on a strong political connotation,” Fauci said. “Whether you are a Democrat, Repulican or an independent, please do not let the differences of opinion that you may have lead to outright hostility.”

Fauci discussed how graduates will experience lifelong learning beyond their formal education.

He warned that the graduates may feel an “uneasy and subliminal feeling of unfinished business” because their education and experience is continuous even after graduation.

“This feeling is not necessarily negative since it can be transformed into something productive and positive,” Fauci said.

Fauci ended his speech with affirmations of the graduates’ hard work and reassurances that the pandemic will end. 

“Let me assure you, as a public health person who is devoted to spending every waking hour and even some of my dreams to ending this pandemic, that [the pandemic] will end and we will come out of this stronger,” Fauci said.

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About the Contributor
Annabelle Abbott
Annabelle Abbott, Former Staff Writer
Annabelle Abbott (‘24) is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences studying law, history and society and political science. You can reach her at [email protected].
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