Honorary Degree Recipient and Keynote Speaker

Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS
17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006)

Richard CarmonaBorn to a poor Hispanic family in New York City, Richard H. Carmona dropped out of high school and experienced homelessness, hunger, and health disparities as a youth. Those experiences sensitized him to the relationships among culture, health, education, and economic status that have shaped his professional career.

A combat-decorated U.S. Army Special Forces Vietnam veteran, Dr. Carmona attended Bronx Community College of the City University of New York through an open enrollment program for veterans before attending the University of California, San Francisco, where he received a bachelor’s of science degree and medical degree. At the University of California Medical School, Dr. Carmona was awarded the prestigious gold-headed cane as his class’s top graduate. He trained in general and vascular surgery and completed a National Institutes of Health-sponsored fellowship in trauma, burns, and critical care as well as a master’s degree in public health from the University of Arizona. In his long and distinguished career, he has served in numerous roles, including founding director of the Tucson (Arizona) Medical Center and University of Arizona’s first regional trauma care system, CEO of the Pima County hospital and health care system, and, with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, as a deputy sheriff, detective, SWAT team leader, and department surgeon.

In 2002 Dr. Carmona was nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. As Surgeon General, Dr. Carmona focused on prevention, preparedness, health disparities, health literacy, and global health (including health diplomacy). He also issued many landmark Surgeon General communications during his tenure, including the definitive Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of secondhand smoke. In 2006, Dr. Carmona completed his four-year term as Surgeon General and returned to the University of Arizona, where he is a professor of surgery and pharmacy practice and a distinguished laureate professor of public health.

Dr. Carmona has published extensively and received numerous awards, decorations, and local and national recognitions for his achievements. In recent years he has held positions of senior leadership that include directorships of several public and private boards, vice-chair of Canyon Ranch, and president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute. Dr. Carmona also continues his leadership role working with investment firms to identify emerging science and technology for public good and economic benefit.

Student Speaker

Jason Beck, PhD, Psychology, 2021

Jason BeckJason Beck received his PhD in Positive Organizational Psychology in Fall 2021. His research primarily involved how mindfulness and the quality of attention affect leaders and how they connect to their followers, develop leadership skills, and have meaningful work. Specifically, his dissertation examined how mindfulness helps leaders transform emotional intensity in meaningful experiences. Beck is passionate about developing what it means to “be human” in organizations to enhance performance, well-being, and resilience.

During his time at CGU, Jason immersed himself in many areas of student life, from being a teaching assistant, flag football team manager, CGU podcast host, and organizer for the annual “Lab Olympics” competition across the research labs in the Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences. Now, as an organizational consultant, professor, and researcher, Jason pulls from unique experiences as a leader development coach, improv comedy performer, and musician.

Alumni Board President

Zenobia Walji, MBA, 1988

Walji ZenobiaZenobia Walji is passionate about connecting people and building bridges between academia and industry. Her worldview and professional background—she has worked on six continents—have informed her tenure as president of CGU’s Alumni Association, which continues to expand nationally and internationally.

Walji, who earned her bachelor’s degree in European Studies and Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College before attending CGU, credits Peter Drucker with having a profound influence on her career. Throughout her three decades in the healthcare industry, she has leveraged her experience working across cultures, her servant-leadership style, and her interest in serving communities where she works and lives to win the support of C-Suite executives and medical professionals. So, when she returned to Southern California from Asia in 2019, she sought ways to reconnect with CGU and found a good fit when she attended an Alumni Association meeting.

“It rekindled great memories of my time at the university and reminded me of why I feel so endeared toward CGU,” she says. “It has been a privilege to give back and also exciting to play a role in bringing to life the full power and diversity of CGU and our alumni.”