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Farewell from Dr. Bliss

Dear Students,

This is not the way any of us wanted these four years to end. Although many of you will still attend college graduation ceremonies sometime in the future, you will not have had the traditional closing dinner and poster display event that has ended every fourth-year class’s Health Sciences LEAP experience since 2004. I’m very glad, however, that you will have this celebratory book, a kind of yearbook recording and recognizing your accomplishments in completing the only such program in the country and preparing to move on toward achieving your healthcare goals. Moreover, as future healthcare professionals, you of course understand the need to suspend gatherings of all sorts at this perilous time.

I had the enormous honor of being the first to teach Health Sciences LEAP classes and to teach all four years of these classes for two decades. I have said repeatedly and to anyone who would listen that this program has provided me with the most rewarding, meaningful, and challenging teaching of my half century career. It has also taught me a great deal about social determinants of health, disparities in healthcare delivery, prejudice in all its forms, and privilege and its unearned advantages. In fact, I’m sure I’ve learned more from my students than they have from me.

To you, my last cohort of students, in particular: thank you for staying with me and with HS-LEAP, and I know you go out from it with great enthusiasm, determination, understanding, and the raw talent and intelligence that will take you far in the various directions you have decided to go. I am pleased to have had a small role in helping you start in those directions with letters and advice, and I’m happy to continue in that role for you and past Health Sciences LEAP students as long as I’m needed.

We have seen HS-LEAP students go forth to become physicians, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, bioengineers, and researchers.  We have also seen some decide to serve others as lawyers, teachers, and public health personnel. This year, for the first time, we’ll most likely be sending one to veterinary school and another to a dance therapy program. Most importantly, we have begun, even in a small way, to remedy the crying need for more diversity among healthcare providers in Utah and the nation.

Most people who have received an honor claim to be humbled. I, on the other hand, am out-loud proud to have had this role in your lives and in Health Sciences LEAP. I wish and fully expect nothing but the best for you in the future.


Carolyn Bliss, Professor Emerita