U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood Named RUSH University Commencement Speaker

A registered nurse and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, Underwood will keynote RUSH’s 51st commencement ceremony on April 29
A smiling woman in front of tall architectural columns

RUSH University will recognize more than 800 health professions graduates at its 51st Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, at Credit Union 1 Arena.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, MSN/MPH, RN, FAAN, who represents Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, has been named honorary speaker for this year’s  ceremony. She is the first woman, the first person of color and the first millennial to represent her district in Congress.

Underwood is a registered nurse and co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, which addresses America’s Black Maternal Health crisis in Congress and advances policy solutions to improve maternal health outcomes and end disparities.

Underwood’s work to advance maternal health aligns with RUSH’s commitment to health equity, including its support of the Family Connects program. Family Connects is led by RUSH College of Nursing in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health and provides home visits by a registered nurse to new moms and babies at RUSH in communities across Chicago.

“RUSH University is privileged to host Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, as this year’s honorary commencement speaker,” said Christine Kennedy, RN, PhD, FAAN, interim provost, RUSH University and Dean, College of Nursing. “She is a powerful example of the significant impact health care professionals can make when health policy is their practice.”

Prior to her election to Congress in 2019, Underwood served as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she also helped implement the Affordable Care Act, broadening access for those on Medicare, improving health care quality, and reforming private insurance. Underwood has taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program and worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care.

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University.

About RUSH University Commencement

Established in 1972, RUSH University comprises RUSH Medical College, the College of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College. Graduating RUSH Medical College students will be receiving doctorate degrees in medicine. Students from the College of Nursing will receive either master’s in nursing or doctorate in nursing practice degrees.

Degrees conferred by the College of Health Sciences include bachelor’s degrees in health sciences, imaging sciences, medical laboratory science, perfusion technology, respiratory care and vascular ultrasound; master’s in clinical laboratory management, clinical nutrition, health systems management, medical laboratory science, occupational therapy, perfusion technology, physician assistant studies, research administration, respiratory care and speech-language pathology; and the doctorate in audiology.

Degrees conferred by the Graduate College include master’s in anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry, biomechanics, biotechnology, clinical research, immunology/microbiology, neurosciences, and pharmacology; and doctorates in philosophy in anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry, biomechanics, health sciences, immunology/microbiology, molecular biophysics and physiology, neurosciences, nursing science and pharmacology.

RUSH University is the academic component of RUSH University Medical Center, a leading academic medical center. RUSH University has expanded from one college and fewer than 100 students to four colleges and a fall 2022 enrollment of 2,870 students across the colleges. RUSH University is known for its practitioner-teacher model, translational research, nurturing academic environment and focus on community and global health.

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