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President Valerie Smith's Charge to Dr. Rachel Levine

Throughout her esteemed medical career, Dr. Rachel Levine has fought to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. In 2020, as Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Rachel served as a calm, reassuring authority figure while executing the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. Now, she is fighting the pandemic on a national level, as assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — the first openly transgender federal official to receive Senate confirmation.

Early in her career, as a pediatrician, Rachel specialized in treating individuals with eating disorders, pioneering the first program in that field at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

She moved into public service in 2015. As Pennsylvania’s physician general, she took on another epidemic — the opioid crisis. An order Rachel signed during her tenure is credited with saving thousands of lives, by allowing law enforcement to carry the anti-overdose medication Naloxone. 

Rachel has also long been a staunch advocate of LGBTQ rights, creating programs that aim to make health care more fair and inclusive. In 2017, she was named to NBC’s Pride30, a national list of people making a difference in the lives of members of the LGBTQ community.

Rachel, upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Sciences.