Johns Hopkins Gazette | May 18, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 18, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 35
JHU: A Family Affair

A family snapshot, away from Johns Hopkins: Arthur Giovannetti, Cynthia Rand, Devin Rand-Giovannetti and Erin Rand-Giovannetti.

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

As parents watch sons or daughters cross the stage this week, some will undoubtedly drift back in thought to his or her own college graduation ceremony. Cynthia Rand certainly will.

When Rand received her doctorate in psychology from the School of Arts and Sciences in 1982, her 2-year-old daughter, Erin, sat in her lap. On Wednesday, mother and daughter come full circle as Erin Rand-Giovannetti will earn her doctorate in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Cynthia will actually hand Erin her degree, a fitting gesture for a family who considers Johns Hopkins its home away from home.

For the past two decades, Cynthia has been a faculty member in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the School of Medicine. The full professor, an internationally recognized expert in the area of medication adherence, also holds joint appointments in Psychiatry and Public Health.

Erin's father, Arthur Giovannetti, is an information systems security officer at the School of Public Health. Cynthia and Arthur's younger daughter, Devin, is a research assistant at the School of Medicine's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

The past year, the four regularly carpooled to the East Baltimore and Bayview campuses with Johns Hopkins badges dangling from their necks.

Erin headed to the School of Public Health to attend class and work on a research project with her mother's colleague Cynthia Boyd, an assistant professor of geriatric medicine and gerontology.

"That felt a bit strange at first," Cynthia said. "But this place feels like a small village. There are so many connections like that."

In a sense, Erin and Devin literally grew up at Johns Hopkins. As kids, both girls often visited their mom and dad, whose colleagues became proxy aunts and uncles. When they got older, the two often hung around mom's office, where they got usurped into what Cynthia playfully calls "slave labor."

"They would do it all: lick stamps, file papers and do other basic clerical tasks," Cynthia said. "Early on they got a taste of the mundane side of the research world."

During their teens, Erin and Devin took summer jobs at Johns Hopkins, working on various research projects.

"They did some data entry and other entry-level work. It was good experience for them, and they learned a lot," Cynthia said. "Looking back now, the girls have grown up around my colleagues."

Both girls graduated from Wellesley College. Devin plans to work as a research assistant for one more year before going to grad school in psychology.

So what does this family talk about after a long day at work or in class?

Erin said that JHU talk does come up occasionally, especially when she asks her mother for advice on career development, "but then my sister and father roll their eyes and we stop," she said.

Cynthia and Erin will attend both the School of Public Health's convocation ceremony, to be held on Wednesday in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and the universitywide ceremony on Thursday morning at Homewood Field.

Cynthia said that she looks forward to that moment on stage when she can hand her first child her degree.

"It's a lovely tradition that they allow here," she said. "Of course, I'm quite proud of her and what she's been able to accomplish to this point."

To be sure, a large contingent of Giovannettis will be in attendance on Wednesday, including the girls' 79-year-old grandmother, who is flying in from California.

"It's going to be quite a happy day for all of us," beamed a proud mother.

Erin has applied for a postdoc fellowship in geriatrics at Johns Hopkins, "so I'm keeping my fingers crossed," she said.


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