Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will deliver the commencement address to medical students during the Keck School of Medicine’s graduation ceremony on May 13.

Rochelle Walensky

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Walensky deliver our commencement address,” said Donna D. Elliott, MD, EdD, Vice Dean for Medical Education and Chair, Department of Medical Education. “She has fought on the front lines of COVID-19, and sharing her expertise as a leader and a physician will be a tremendous opportunity for our students. We are excited.” 

Walensky’s tenure as head of the CDC began Jan. 20, 2021, upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Before taking her current position, Walensky was an instructor, then a professor, at Harvard Medical School. She also was chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore in 1995, and her BA in biochemistry and molecular biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1991.

Walensky has become one of the public faces of the Biden administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including delivery of millions of doses of vaccines. During a televised White House briefing on March 29, she encouraged Americans to not let up on public health safeguards like wearing masks and physical distancing, in an effort to prevent a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. “We do not have the luxury of inaction,” she said.