Graduates To Hear From the First Female and First Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General

Dr. Antonia Coello Novello, who was the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General, is Western New Mexico University's Spring 2018 Commencement Speaker.

© Western New Mexico University

The 265 Western New Mexico University students who are walking in the Spring 2018 commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11, 2018, will hear from Antonia Coello Novello, who is a medical doctor and holds a master’s in public health as well as a doctorate in public health, and who was the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General.

Graduation takes place in Old James Stadium starting at 2 p.m. It will also be live-streamed online. For guests who have limited mobility, a wheelchair-accessible area will be reserved at the top of the stairs in Old James Stadium.

The Puerto Rico-born commencement speaker has a bachelor’s and a medical doctorate from the University of Puerto Rico, and Dr. Novello served a pediatric internship and residency at the University of Michigan, completing her subspecialty training in pediatric nephrology at University of Michigan and Georgetown University. Dr. Novello also received both a master’s and a doctorate in public health from Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Novello worked in pediatrics and nephrology, entering the U.S. Public Health Service in 1978 and rising to Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She helped draft and enact the Organ Procurement Transplantation Act of 1984 and was also successful in drafting warning labels concerning the health risks of cigarette smoking. She was sworn in as the 14th Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service on March 9, 1990.

Since serving as Surgeon General, Dr. Novello has been UNICF’s Special Representative for Health and Nutrition, the 13th New York State Health Commissioner, and Florida Hospital’s Executive Director of Public Health Policy. She also holds countless awards, including the Legion of Merit.

Currently, Dr. Novello serves as a liaison between the U.S. Embassy and the government of Dominican Republic on raising the awareness of domestic violence and spearheading legislative efforts.

Commencement attendees should avoid the College Avenue construction project when traveling to and from the ceremony. The university recommends traveling on 12th Street rather than College Avenue and also planning for congested roads and traffic delays.

Western New Mexico University is granting 350 degrees – 72 associate degrees, 145 bachelor’s degrees, 99 master’s degrees, 25 graduate certificates and 18 fast-track certificates – this spring.

For more details, flip through the WNMU spring 2018 commencement program.

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