Harvard professor to speak at graduation

Graduation is just around the corner, whether those graduating have chosen to accept it yet. As the long journey comes to a close, the alumna chosen to give the commencement address shares her story and advice to take advantage of all the opportunities offered at Linfield.

Theresa (Stichick) Betancourt graduated in 1991 with a degree in psychology and a minor in international studies and art. Now, 21 years later, Betancourt is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. But she says she wouldn’t be where she is today without everything she learned while at Linfield.

“Linfield helps you build an excellent foundation for so many things that you might want to do in the future,” Betancourt said.

As her success and research grows, Betancourt said that Linfield is a great place to start out.

“It’s a tremendous foundation,” Betancourt said. “[Students] are well-prepared. Linfield gives you a broad and well-grounded education.”

Working for the Upward Bound program, Betancourt served as a tutor during the school year and a counselor in the summer. Through working with the different students in the Upward Bound program, Betancourt found the motivation to work with refugees.

Also influencing her passion for cultural studies was her interactions with the International Programs Office (IPO).

Traveling abroad to France, Mexico, Greece and Turkey helped her to deepen an appreciation for cultural exchange and gave her a sense of humility in working and living in diverse settings. For more than 11 years, she has been leading a study in Sierra Leone following the lives of a cohort of war-affected youth, many of them former child soldiers, and working with Partners in Health in Rwanda to launch research on an intervention to promote mental health among children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

“[My experience at Linfield was] an amazing one,” Betancourt said.  “I was able to pursue my interests in language and cross-cultural exchange and plant the seeds for a career that I enjoy immensely. Linfield provides a tremendous foundation.”

Betancourt will speak June 2 during the commencement ceremony.

Kaylyn Peterson

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Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at