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The University of Maryland, Baltimore celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2023 on May 18th at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena, located on the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus. During the ceremony, Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a former Maryland state Senator, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service for her 40 years of dedicated work as a political and community activist.

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Nathan-Pulliam served in both the state Senate and the House of Delegates for 25 years, where she championed various health policy initiatives to reduce healthcare disparities and inequalities and improve the healthcare delivery system.

She is an alumna of the University of Maryland School of Nursing and was recognized as an inaugural Visionary Pioneer in 2014. Recently, the school honored her contributions to nursing, education, and public health by adding her name to the façade of their expanded footprint on Lombard Street.

Before retiring in 2019, Nathan-Pulliam was a significant advocate for improved access and quality of care for underserved populations in Maryland throughout her tenure. Her efforts positively impacted thousands of individuals, particularly those in underserved communities. Her legislative focus ensured access to healthcare for all Maryland residents.

She established several programs to diagnose and treat illnesses, including breast cancer, and reduce oral cancer mortality. She also sponsored legislation that led to the creation of the Healthcare Disparities Prevention Act and the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. Nathan-Pulliam was a mentor to nurses and legislators.

Nathan-Pulliam was a licensed registered nurse who worked as a quality assurance coordinator, head nurse, and team leader in several hospitals in Baltimore. She was appointed as the Social Service Commissioner by Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, JD, in 1990. In

1994, she became the first Caribbean-born person and the first African-Caribbean registered nurse to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly. Her advocacy extended to improving the quality of care in nursing homes, Medicaid utilization, and health care delivery and financing, as well as legislation for children, youth, and families, health care insurance and Medicaid, mental health, and health care workforce diversity. Click here to read more on The Elm, a University of Maryland, Baltimore publication.

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