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Spring Commencement speaker announced

March 30, 2016

It was announced on Wednesday that Mona Hanna-Attisha, an assistant professor of pediatrics in MSU’s College of Human Medicine, will be speaking at MSU's undergraduate convocation on May 6.

Hanna-Attisha, who is also the director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, is touted as a hero of the Flint water crisis as her study exposed elevated lead blood levels in Flint children. She will also be receiving an honorary doctorate of science.

“MSU’s roots in Flint run deep, so there’s no one more appropriate than Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha — whose heroism has inspired the nation — to congratulate our graduates,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a press release.

Hanna-Attisha is an MSU alumna, as she received her medical degree from the MSU College of Human Medicine and her bachelor’s and master of public health degrees from the University of Michigan.

For her work in Flint, Hanna-Attisha was named the 2016 recipient of The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. Hanna-Attisha has also been nominated for Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list.

In January Hanna-Attisha was named a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, which is tasked with setting in place long-term solutions to Flint's water systems.

In addition to Hanna-Attisha speaking, it was also announced Wednesday that Ellen Williams, the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, will speak at MSU’s advanced degree ceremony, which will take place after the undergraduate ceremony.

Williams is also an MSU alumna. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from MSU, followed by a doctoral degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.

Williams founded the University of Maryland's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and was its director from 1996 to 2009. She has also served as a professor in the Department of Physics at Maryland since 1991. Williams is currently on a leave of absence from the University of Maryland.

“And Ellen Williams, a top official in the Department of Energy, is a prime example of the leadership that defines Spartans," Simon said in the release. "Both speakers, and our two additional honorary degree recipients, are MSU alumni and it gives us great reward to welcome them back home.”

Both events will be held at the Breslin Center and will be free and open to the public. The undergraduate ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. on May 6, with the advanced degree ceremony to take place at 3:30 p.m.

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