Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology student Lauren Whitman gave the 2024 Commencement address to the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and School of Healthcare Leadership at the MGH Institute’s May 10 ceremony. President Paula Milone-Nuzzo introduced Whitman: 

Lauren’s unwavering dedication to creating positive change and serving her community has been a driving force throughout her academic journey. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science with minors in Disability Studies, Human Development and Family Sciences, Public Health, and Spanish from the University of Delaware, embodying her commitment to interdisciplinary learning and advocacy.

Continuing her path, Lauren is graduating today with an MS in Speech-Language Pathology. During her time at the Institute, Lauren worked as an Admissions Ambassador and served as the President of National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association.

Looking ahead, Lauren eagerly anticipates completing her Clinical Fellowship year and obtaining her Certificate of Clinical Competence. Her passion for all facets of her field underscores her readiness to embrace any professional opportunity that comes her way. Above all, she is driven by the profound desire to advocate for clients and make a tangible difference in the lives of patients and their support networks, fostering an environment where every individual's voice is heard and valued.

Lauren Whitman:

Six years ago today, May 10, 2018, was the last fully normal day with life as I knew it. On May 11, during my senior year of high school, a seizure unveiled multiple small tumors inhabiting my right and left temporal lobes and spine. 

I underwent brain surgery to biopsy and remove the largest and most troublesome tumor of the six. The others are still here hanging out with us today; they’re honored to be sharing this stage!

I trusted my strength and my stubbornness enough to carry me through the hardest moments of my entire life, and promised myself that I would live to tell about it. But, throughout my journey here at the IHP and my experience as a student clinician, I recognize a little more each day that a significant catalyst for my success lies beyond my own tenacity.

Yes, I have always been strong and motivated and resilient. But when I lost the skills I had always taken for granted, I needed more than that to get the ball rolling. 

That catalyst, the single thing keeping my head above water long enough, was you. 

Don’t look at me like that. Yes, I’m talking about you

Well, the generations of you before you, I suppose. The people who currently walk in the shoes of the careers into which we are about to step. 

During my recovery, my family and I worked with every single discipline making up this beautiful, interprofessional crowd in front of me. I owe my ability to stand before you today to the collective efforts of the healthcare community. 

Each discipline played a crucial role in my recovery journey. Yes, once again, that includes you! 

Though at times, I question the reason for my perseverance. Why drag myself out of bed in the morning only to long for its warmth later in the day? Then, I remember: purpose. We all have a purpose. I have a purpose. You have a purpose. We have a purpose.

And the single, shared purpose, as members of this graduating class, is our unyielding commitment to serving others, to effecting positive change, and to contributing to something greater than ourselves.

Another reason I’m here? Because I know how much health professionals changed my life. How they granted me the opportunity to be standing here with you today. That means that without each and every one of you, I would not have the privilege of being here with you right now.

But this is not only about me. This is also about you. About us

So, humor me for a second. I invite you all to close your eyes. C’mon, I’ll even do it with you. Now raise your hand if someone in this room has changed your life for the better. Whatever that means to you. It’s open for interpretation. Okay good keep those hands up and open your eyes. 

Look around. Now, hands down.

On days when your life feels meaningless, mundane, monotonous, I challenge you to remember the way that felt. 

Knowing that your life, and the lives of others, has been forever impacted by your existence on this earth, and especially your time at the IHP. The people you continue to meet on your journey beyond the IHP will change your life or you will change theirs. Or, if you’re as lucky as I am, both will be true.

As you embark on your careers with the primary intention of helping others, make sure you allow others to help you along the way. Because in the same way you were born to change the lives of others, others were born to change yours.

Thank you for forever changing mine.