Professor shares advice on ‘the unfinished agenda’ at lecture

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Professor Richard Skolnik spoke to over 80 students about his passion for his career in global health in a lecture called “Completing the Unfinished Agenda” on Tuesday evening.

The “unfinished agenda” includes preventing issues regarding civil conflicts, Skolnick said.

“The oppression of women in many countries is beyond imagination. There are appalling problems of ill health and premature deaths in too many countries,” he said.

In the lecture, Skolnik talked about how his experiences fostered his interest, his journey, and suggestions for individuals in the audience to impact everyone’s lives. Through an entertaining slideshow, Skolnik reminisced his childhood days, his high school memories, and his trip to the Philippines.

“We know that the time in the Philippines was a catalyst for getting into public health,” Shalini Wickramatilake, Skolnik’s former student and senior in the Elliott School said.

Skolnik, who has previously worked for the World Bank as the Director for Health and Education for South Asia, said learning about other parts of the world is at the hear of his job.

“You learn as much as you can about languages and cultures. Many of my students know that this is one of my most fun things in life,” he said.

Skolnik also gave advice on how to succeed in life. “Adopt a few mentors even if they don’t want to adopt you and learn all you can from them,” he said.

For Yesha Malik, a senior in the Elliott School, Skolnik embodies what it truly means to be a mentor.

“He is always a source of encouragement whenever you go to him for help. Even in class he encourages people to contribute their own set of skills to be more productive,” Malik said.

In the midst of speaking, Skolnik encouraged students to “identify role models and learn all you can from them as well. This is especially important for many of our students who are at their undergraduate level because you know what you want to do but you don’t know enough people who do it.”

To conclude, Skolnik mentioned six things he hopes students will do with their lives and what he hopes students will learn from his.

“Respect everyone all the time, be excellent at all you do, always guard your personal and professional integrity, be the first person to care about people in need and always do something about it, seek and revel in transformative experiences, and lastly find excitement, meeting, and meaning in helping to finish the unfinished agenda.”

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