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The Daily Barometer

Dr. Charity Dean recollects on OSU career ahead of 2023 commencement


By Nino Paoli

Published on 6/6/23

Whether it be containing a potential tuberculosis outbreak or monitoring early concerns of an international pandemic, leaping into action is something Dr. Charity Dean, the 2023 commencement keynote speaker, is not unfamiliar to.

During her time as a public health official in California, Dean carried out the jobs her peers and superiors avoided: from extracting lung tissue from a woman’s corpse with garden shears given to her by a coroner afraid of contracting tuberculosis, to trying to reason with the American government and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 when the virus first began to spread in China.

“Being given nothing but garden shears to do this impossible task while being surrounded by all of these people who are better-equipped and better-qualified, and really, they should be the ones doing this,” Dean said. “But my God, if no one else will grab the garden shears and start cutting, I will.”

Prior to Dean taking initiative in high-pressure situations as a public health official, she first needed to learn how to persist through hardships she endured as an undergraduate student at OSU.

“It was at Oregon State University that I learned what I am capable of,” Dean said. “We’re all born with these dormant superpowers, but we have to go through challenging trials for the superpowers to be activated … my superpowers began to be activated while I was at Oregon State.”

Dean said she is honored to speak at Oregon State University’s 2023 commencement on June 17, as her undergraduate experience at the university was an integral part of her origin story.

Growing up in Junction City, Ore., Dean’s path to OSU was built on the belief in her potential.

“I grew up in an extremist religious environment, where academic pursuits were not encouraged,” Dean said. “The only thing that was encouraged was the church cultural belief system.”

Coincidentally, it was at church where Dean first became transfixed by communicable diseases.

Read the full article on The Daily Barometer's website here.

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