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Three will receive honorary degrees at Commencement May 20

Three will receive honorary degrees at Commencement May 20

A documentary filmmaker specializing in stories about the human element of caring, a Haitian-born physician known internationally for his work in infectious diseases, and the faithkeeper for the Onondaga Nation and Iroquois Confederacy, will speak to graduates and receive honorary degrees at Upstate Medical University Commencement May 20.

Degrees will be presented to 462 students in four separate ceremonies. All will be held at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center, 800 S. State St, Syracuse.

The College of Health Professions will graduate 148 students at a ceremony to be held at 9 a.m.

The College of Nursing will graduate 119 students at a ceremony to be held at 11:30 a.m.

The College of Graduate Studies will graduate 23 students at a ceremony to be held at 1:30 p.m.

The College of Medicine will graduate 172 (146 MD, 18 MPH, three MD/PhD, three MD/MPH, three Certificate of Public Health) students ceremony will be held at 3 p.m.

Speaking to College of Nursing graduates will be the filmmaker and photographic ethnographer Carolyn Jones, who will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.

Jones, a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, uses passionate and personal storytelling to examine issues of global and national concern. From people “living positively” with AIDS to women artisans supporting entire communities and nurses on the front lines of our healthcare system, Jones has devoted her career to telling stories that celebrate invisible populations and break down barriers. Her first book, Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS, was accompanied by shows in Tokyo, Berlin, and at the United Nations World AIDS Conference. In 2003 she founded the non-profit 100 People Foundation which creates educational films and curricula for participating students in over 90 countries worldwide. In 2012 she published the critically-acclaimed book The American Nurse, which was featured in The New York TimesThe Washington Post and USA Today. She directed and executive-produced the follow-up documentary film The American Nurse: Healing America, which was released in theaters nationwide and was an official selection of the 2015 American Film Showcase, a cultural diplomacy program of the US Department of State. Her newest film, Defining Hope, is the culmination of a journey investigating how we can make better end-of-life choices. It was awarded Best Premiere-Documentary Feature at the Heartland Film Festival and began airing on PBS stations nationwide in the Spring of 2018.

Speaking to graduates of the College of Graduate Studies and the College of Medicine will be the Haitian-born physician who is known internationally for his work in infectious diseases Jean William Pape, MD, who will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Pape is the founder and director of GHESKIO (the French acronym for The Haitian Study Group on Kaposi Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In this role, he has provided organizational leadership for the care of patients with AIDS, diarrhea, TB and cholera. He has made significant public health contributions in Haiti and around the globe in addressing these diseases. He is credited with greatly reducing infantile diarrhea, the main cause of mortality in children. His work has led to a 50 percent decrease in national infantile mortality related to diarrhea and the establishment of rehydration therapy, now an internationally successful approach to treating infantile diarrhea. Pape is also professor of medicine in the Center for Global Health at the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, where he has been affiliated for more than four decades. His responsibilities include research, administration, teaching and clinical care. Respected by his medical peers, numerous awards have been bestowed on him, notably given by the governments of Haiti, France and the United States. In 2010, he received the Clinton Global Citizen award. Pape is a 1971 graduate of Columbia University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He received his MD degree from Weill Medical College of Cornell University in 1975. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Cornell University affiliated hospitals, and an infectious disease fellowship at The New York Hospital of Cornell Medical Center.

Speaking to graduates of the College of Health Professions and College of Medicine will be Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Tracy Shenandoah, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Shenandoah is a spiritual and ceremonial leader of the Onondaga Nation and the Iroquois Confederacy of upstate New York. The role of faithkeeper is among the highest leadership roles in the Native American culture. A member of the Eel Clan, he is an internationally known practitioner of traditional medicine and a traditional knowledge keeper, greatly valued by the Native community.With a dedication to the well being of his people, Faithkeeper Shenandoah conducts traditional ceremonies and serves as a cultural mentor. He is a teacher of language, ceremony and oral traditions. He has been a consultant to the Native American Cultural Projects for the Syracuse City School District and to the Onondaga Nation Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, for those recovering from alcohol or drug dependence. He is a member of the advisory board of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth, an organization that fosters traditional culture and well-being among Native Americans. Internationally, he has spoken on Indigenous culture and participated in events at the United Nations. In 2008, he received the International Lacrosse Federation’s Spirit of Lacrosse Award.

A pre-commencement dessert reception for graduates and their families will be held Saturday, May 19 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Genesee Grand Hotel, Syracuse.