Commencement Spotlight: Alversia Wade

Wade will be the student speaker at the UConn Health Graduate School commencement ceremony

Alversia Wade portrait outdoors

Alversia Wade '22 MPH is the graduate student speaker for Commencement 2022. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Alversia Danaé Wade grew up in Waterford. Before pursuing her master’s in public health, Alversia graduated from UConn summa cum laude on May 10th, 2020 with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in human development and family sciences. During her time at UConn, Alversia served as the co-President for the Graduate Students of Color Association and helped revive the Public Health Student Organization where she served as the Secretary and Graduate Student Organization Liaison. She plans to pursue a career in public health after graduation with a particular focus on implementing health programs in minority populations.


Why did you choose UConn?

To be honest, I grew up in Connecticut and was not ecstatic about attending a school where basically my entire high school had applied. I went to a different institution for a year and a half until I ultimately ended up transferring to UConn in my sophomore year of undergrad. It was the best decision. When it came time to pick a university to pursue my graduate degree, I realized that UConn was the perfect fit for what I wanted to study and do after graduation.

Why did you choose to enter medical or graduate school/the field of medicine or science? 

My upbringing greatly influenced my decision to pursue a master’s in public health. I was one of a few Black girls growing up in Waterford which is a predominantly White area, but I spent the majority of my social time in the neighboring Black community. I noticed disparities in access to health resources between my friends who were Black and my friends who were White. My desire to understand these differences led me to pursue an MPH.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am currently looking for work in public health sciences. I have a bachelor’s (also from UConn) in psychology. I would love to work in community mental health implementing different evidence-based practices or health programs to serve minorities and other marginalized communities.

What activities were you involved with as a student?

I am the Co-President of the Graduate Students of Color Association. I am the Secretary and Graduate Student Organization Liaison for the recently revived Public Health Students Organization.

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?

UConn has provided me with the education and experience necessary to continue the next chapter of my life. I have formed powerful connections with faculty and students that will help me in my future endeavors. Most importantly, UConn has given me a sense of home. I know that wherever I go I will always be a Husky and have UConn to support me.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?

I was incredibly taken aback by the size of UConn. I knew it was large, but I did not fully understand how big until I was there amongst the chaos.

Any advice for incoming first-year medical students or other graduate students?

Ask questions. Make mistakes. Remember you’re human.

There is no single solution to a problem. You’re going to mess up a few times, but that makes getting it right even better. Learning from our mistakes is a part of human nature. Also, I would like to emphasize the human part. We’re not robots. Graduate school is demanding, but there is always time for you. Eat, take breaks, and check in with yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

What’s one thing every student should do during their time at UConn?

Go to the UConn Dairy Bar at Storrs. Trust me. It’s worth it.

Who was your favorite mentor and why?

Coming into my master’s I had many ideas about what I wanted to do, but no idea how to accomplish it. Dr. Megan O’Grady introduced me to the field of Implementation Science and everything started to make a little bit more sense. She helped me center my focus and set career goals.

What’s one thing that will always make you think of UConn?

Huskies! Whenever I see one, I think “Students today, Huskies forever”. Corny, but that phrase has always stuck with me.

What was it like training to be a doctor or scientist during a pandemic?

Stressful, yet incredibly rewarding. In class, we talked about the pandemic A LOT which grew to be frustrating at times because it would seem that’s all we talked about, but being able to see firsthand the application of what we were learning to a global pandemic was enlightening. We were able to get real-world, practical experience. Outside of the educational experience, family and friends would often come to me for guidance about the pandemic or to ask questions about what was going on. I came to fully understand the impact of public health and how I could help make a difference.