The woman who became the face and voice of Ohio’s efforts to fight the Coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic came home on Thursday with a message of hope to graduates of Liberty High School.

Dr. Amy Acton addressed the Class of 2022 during commencement ceremonies at Stambaugh Auditorium, telling them about how her first meeting with Governor DeWine, led to her appointment as Ohio’s first female health director until her resignation in 2020.

According to Acton, when DeWine asked her about her life, she told him about how having rough childhood growing up in Youngstown led her to a realization that many kids she knew ended up with lives very different than hers.

She told the governor that she believed our zip code should not determine our life expectancy or future more than our genetic code. That realization led her to a belief that preventative medicine and public housing could help people get out ahead of challenges.

The 1984 Liberty graduate’s efforts to contain the Coronavirus during her tenure as health director drew praise from many and criticism from others.

The doctor admitted to graduates that she experienced hate in those days during weekly televised COVID updates with Governor Michael DeWine that resulted in heath mandates and restrictions that some Ohioans resisted.  However, she said that the love was greater than the hate.

According to Acton, when she served as health director there was a room larger than the Stambaugh stage filled with items that Ohioans made, said, and did supporting efforts by her and the governor.

The audience broke out into applause when Dr. Acton said that fear is a contagion worse than the virus. “Act on love, not hate. Act on kindness, not fear,” said Acton.

The “Profile in Courage Award” recipient characterized the graduates that went through the pandemic as being part of what she called “Generation C”.  Acton said the “C” doesn’t stand for “Covid”, but “compassion” and agents of change.

“I picture you in your 80’s telling your great-great grandkids about the great pandemic,” said Acton. “You are very needed. You share this with a generation across the world. How rare is it that an entire world shares this together”

Saying she sees herself as an ordinary person who found herself in an extraordinary moment in the crosshairs of history, Acton said she plans to write a book someday.

Acton closed with inspirational words from American poet and activist Amanda Gorman: “"There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it."

Liberty's commencement ceremony and Dr. Acton's address may be viewed on the YouTube link below.