Public health students to hear from radio host at commencement

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Juliana Tamayo. 

An award-winning public radio host will speak to School of Public Health and Health Services graduates at their May commencement.

Diane Rehm, host of National Public Radio’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” will discuss health policy issues and her four decades in radio at the May 19 ceremony.

“Diane Rehm was selected because she is a well-informed journalist who understands public health issues,” Lynn Goldman, the school’s dean, said. “Her show reaches the public directly – informing, influencing and persuading much the same as those of us in public health try to do.”

The 75-year-old draws about 2 million listeners to her daily call-in show, which has been on the air since 1984.

Goldman said students and administrators handpicked Rehm after weighing several options for the ceremony’s speaker.

Last year, Kate Roberts, vice president for corporate marketing, communications and advocacy of Populations Services International, spoke at the ceremony about her work to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS.

“The fact that the SPHHS has chosen a public figure as a commencement speaker and not necessarily a public health expert has raised questions, but her ability to highlight issues and discuss present health policy matters make her very appealing for GW students and staff,” Goldman added.

A neurological voice disorder almost derailed Rehm’s career in 1998, but she returned to the air and became an advocate to raise awareness for the disorder called spasmodic dysphonia.

Rehm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“She has tremendous skill at presenting balanced viewpoints. Ms. Rehm is passionate about why public health issues matter,” Goldman said.

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