On Saturday, May 20th, 2023, the Tufts Community Health Workers Engaging in Integrated Care (COHERE) program held its graduation ceremony for its inaugural class at Tufts University School of Medicine. The day was a celebration of the achievements of the program’s first 40 participants.
Amongst the festivities were speeches given by three featured members of the graduating class.
First up was Dominique (she/her). The mom of four spoke to the strong forces of unity that this program fostered and encouraged, saying “It does take a village to raise a community to serve other community members.”
The second speech of the event came from Ivy (she/her). Her words highlighted the diverse backgrounds and wide range of experiences that the graduates brought with them into the program. “We all come from different walks of life, working in rehab, witnessing homelessness, recovery centers, immigration, community colleges, hospitals, and nursing homes.”
Speech three was given by Denise Pruitt (They/Them), who opened with a land acknowledgment. As put by Denise, “As an institution that benefits from the ownership of land once inhabited and cared for by Indigenous communities, Tufts has a responsibility to recognize this history and cultivate relationships with the descendants and nations who represent the original peoples of what is now Massachusetts.”
The ceremony’s Keynote address came from Julia Mejia, a Boston City Counselor.
Councilor Mejia is currently the Chair of the Committee on Education, the Chair of the
Committee on Government Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility as well as the Chair
of the Committee on Labor, Workforce, and Economic Development. Her inspirational speech focused on addressing poverty and meeting the needs of our communities that face the greatest health care gaps and health inequities. Councilor Mejia stressed the importance of the lived experience and linguistic capacity of our trainees, talking about her own experience as a child translating for her parents and the effect of linguistic disparities. She highlighted the integral role of CHWs in advocacy for our communities and addressing health inequities.
The graduation was a celebration of the hard-working individuals making COHERE a reality by persevering and completing the program. Their words highlighted this special program and inspire hope and confidence in the graduates’ bright futures in healthcare.