UAMS College of Public Health Celebrates Student Accomplishments at Convocation

By Kev' Moye

“You have been trained to critically think,” Ben Amick, Ph.D., associate dean for research, told the graduates. “You’ve been trained to communicate effectively, to lead with empathy and integrity. You’re on your way as a young leader.”

The grads, their families, along with members of the college’s faculty and staff, enjoyed food and drinks throughout the celebratory event, which included graduates in attendance hearing their name announced by a faculty member from their master’s or doctoral program.

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA sent a pre-recorded video message that was played.


Wendy Nembhard, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, speaks to attendees of the college’s 2024 convocation.

Additionally, the graduates who earned induction into the Delta Omega honorary public health society received a special plaque. All Delta Omega inductees showcase outstanding performance and devotion to the field of public health.

Meanwhile, Brandie Mikesell, Dr.PH., received her hood.

The college also honored the late Joe Bates, M.D., MS.

Bates played a key role in solving the international tuberculosis crisis. He also trained and mentored a legion of health care professionals. Bates advocated for public health, serving as a professor and associate dean of public health practice for the college and as deputy state health officer at the Arkansas Department of Health.

Bates passed away in 2023 at the age of 90.

Namvar Zohoori, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, a former professor at the college, chief science officer at the health department and longtime colleague of Bates, gave an emotional presentation to honor his friend’s legacy. Among the things he referenced was how Bates was an avid reader and learner who constantly studied to see what was wrong with Arkansans and the potential remedies. That was the case even up until his last days, according to Zohoori.

“He called me to let me know he read in the paper that there was a case of Naegleria in Arkansas,” Zohoori said. “He wanted to know why it happened. How it happened? Are we doing anything to prevent it? He’s about to go into hospice care. Two weeks away from his death … and Dr. Bates was still passionate about the work and keeping Arkansans away from harm.”

To close his address, Zohoori gave the grads some advice that Bates gave him several years ago.

“Once, I asked Dr. Bates what he thought contributed to his success,” Zohoori said. “Without any hesitation he replied, ‘You need to follow three rules. Tell the truth. Respect others. Keep your promise.’ It had nothing to do with degrees, science, administration — nothing. Just those three things. Tell the truth. Keep your promise. Treat others with respect. As graduates, in addition to all the book learning and journal articles, you all keep that advice in mind. Now as you move forward from this point, you’re able to look further and go further because you’re standing on the shoulders of a true giant of public health.”


A family has a group laugh during the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health 2024 convocation.

Amick also provided some words of wisdom for the graduates.

“Beyond the technical skills, please remember the human side of public health,” he said. “It’s about the people whose lives you will impact. That’s what public health is about. The communities you will uplift and the partnerships you will deal with. Public health is about compassion, resilience and hope. It’s about recognizing our shared humanity and working toward a future where everybody has the chance to live a healthy and fulfilling life.”

The convocation concluded with a final recognition and applause of the graduates, a toast and the reciting of the public health professional oath.