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Dr. Anthony Fauci serves as surprise guest speaker for Johns Hopkins virtual commencement

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, surprised members of the Johns Hopkins University’s 2020 class Thursday by serving as a guest speaker of their virtual commencement ceremony.

A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, Fauci addressed the graduates for about a minute and a half as one of a handful of speakers during the ceremony, including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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“We are currently confronting an unprecedented global pandemic, and I am profoundly aware that celebrating your graduation virtually is extremely disappointing at best,” Fauci said. "However, we must adapt to this extraordinary situation, as you have done so well, and unite in overcoming the challenges we face because of COVID-19.

“We need your talent, your energy, your resolve, and your character to get through this difficult time.”

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Fauci, 79, has worked with each sitting president since the Reagan administration but has particularly gained celebrity for his appearances at White House news briefings during the coronavirus pandemic. He received an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins in 2015.

“In the next phase of your lives, whatever professional path you choose, all of you directly or indirectly will be doing your part, together with the rest of us, to come out from under the shadow of this pandemic,” Fauci said. "Hopkins has a rich tradition of nurturing scholars who excel in their fields of study, and, by extension, enhance the global society in which we live.

“I have no doubt you will become leaders in your respective fields and help respond to the many public health and other challenges to come. So congratulations on your graduation, keep well, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”

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