SPHHS honors Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, MS '90, during its 5th Annual Fall Celebration

September 29, 2014

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) hosted its 5th Annual SPHHS Fall Celebration on Saturday, September 27, in the Fine Arts Center. The event took place as part of the UMass Homecoming weekend festivities. Nearly 100 alumni, faculty, staff, and students filled the Fine Arts Center Atrium for the brunch reception, which provided alumni and friends with an opportunity to reconnect and learn more about the latest happenings within the School.

As part of the event, the School recognized Epidemiology alumnus Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, MS '90, professor and interim executive director for the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, who received the SPHHS Award for Significant Contributions to the field of public health and the health sciences.

Dr. Muhajarine is a social epidemiologist who serves as director of the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) and principal investigator for its Smart Cities Healthy Kids initiative, a population health intervention project evaluating the impact of built environment and community design on children’s physical activity, diet and obesity. He supports his desire to make a difference in society through his research. Leading a wide range of social research projects, Dr. Muhajarine has worked to build strong relationships between university, community and government to inspire action and create healthy communities for children, families and citizens alike. The findings from his research have already made a significant impact on local school and health systems in Saskatchewan, including the initiation of major school literacy programs, improved access to public library services in underprivileged areas, and neighborhood development.

Dr. Muhajarine spoke warmly of his time as a graduate student on campus and his return home to the "Happy Valley" of western Massachusetts. He was introduced by his fellow SPHHS alumna Dr. Lisa Chasan-Taber, Professor of Epidemiology, and presented with his award by Dean Marjorie Aelion.

In addition to honoring Dr. Muhajarine, the event also included remarks from Dean Aelion and Provost Katherine Newman, and featured a series of student speakers, each of whom provided highlights of their experiences in the SPHHS. Student speakers included graduate student Emily Ramos, Biostatistics; Kayla MacKay, a senior Communication Disorders major; Courtney St. Onge, a senior Kinesiology student; Ibrahim Osumanu, a senior Nutrition major; and senior Public Health majors Annie Hickey and Derek Luthi.