“Follow Your Passion to Make a Difference”

RUSH University celebrates Its 52nd commencement ceremony
A faculty member wearing academic regalia places a sash over a smiling graduate's head

“Today is the start of an incredible journey as you embark upon this career in health care.”

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, who recently returned to RUSH as the newly appointed president of RUSH University, spoke to nearly 800 graduates about their commitment to serve humanity and the importance of passion as the driving force to make a difference in health care at this year’s commencement ceremony.

“RUSH has championed the improvement of the health and wellness of our community for centuries,” remarked Higgins. “And you as the students and allied health providers have been central to our success while completing your training and educational mission in challenging circumstances.”

Close-up portrait of Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA wearing academic regalia

Higgins, who at the start of April became RUSH University’s fifth president, gave a speech that focused on the importance of passion of being a servant leader as a health care worker.

“We welcome and appreciate your commitment to serve humanity no matter what your role, position or specialty,” said Higgins. “I hope that as you move forward, you will conclude that no matter where you come from, no matter what circumstances that brought you here, that you have the potential to do some fantastic, extraordinary things and the guiding principles that take you from this point forward will lead you to be true to yourself, your family and your community and above all else you will follow your passion to make a difference in this chaotic yet needy healthcare world.”

Every Story Matters

During the 52nd commencement ceremony, student speaker Leah Hoeniges, MPH, MSN, took the stage to deliver an address to her fellow graduates.

Hoeniges told her story about spending time in Haiti and Uganda working on data collection and analysis and mapping. While abroad, she decided that a career in nursing would allow her to help others and make a positive impact. That eventually led her to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing at RUSH.

“In Haiti while doing some mapping work for a local clinic, I learned of the Haitian creole phrase, ‘tout moun se moun,’” Hoeniges told the crowd. “The literal translation means ‘every human is a human,’ but it’s meant to convey that no one person is more important than another.”

Hoeniges explained to the crowd that this can be a mantra for those who choose health care as a career.

“In every patient encounter I’ve had here at RUSH, no matter how beautiful or difficult, I’m reminded of what I’m doing with them in this moment, it matters; this patient matters,” said Hoeniges. “As we walk out these doors today, if there is one thing I hope you carry with you into the next phase of your career, it’s that every human and their story matters. You and your story matters. Each patient and their story matter.”


Hear the full speeches from Higgins and Hoeniges, and experience all the joy of the 52nd commencement event:


The Impact You’ll Make

As commencement came to an end, students walked across the stage, received their diplomas and hoods and found themselves a few moments away from taking the next step in their career.

While the unknown of what lies ahead could seem intimidating to some, RUSH University students could leave confident in knowing they have achieved something that will impact countless lives in Chicago and beyond

“It is our expectation that as we move forward in these complicated times, we will emphasize attributes in our future students — like many of you — who demonstrate outstanding character in their preparation for entry into the health care profession,” said Higgins.

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