Alum and Trustee Join Michelle Obama at President’s State of the Union Address

Issue Date: 
February 9, 2015

The University of Pittsburgh was well represented among the guests invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2015 State of the Union address.

Pranav Shetty, on left in top row, with Michelle Obama

In keeping with a 30-year tradition of the nation’s First Lady inviting guests to her viewing box for the speech, Mrs. Obama invited 22 people to the Jan. 20 event in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol. Each year, the guests exemplify the ideals that the President lays out in his address.

This year, among those seated with Mrs. Obama were Pitt trustee Larry J. Merlo (PHARM ’78), who is president and CEO of CVS Health, and Pranav Shetty (A&S ’03, MED ’07), a medical doctor who has been on the front lines of the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

Merlo announced last year that CVS would eliminate tobacco sales in all of its drug stores, becoming the first major retail pharmacy in the United States to do so. The company then changed its name to CVS Health, representing its broader commitment to public health. Merlo, a Charleroi native, joined CVS in 1990 and currently lives in East Greenwich, R.I. 

Shetty, meanwhile, tackled a different sort of global health problem when he deployed to Liberia last summer to establish and oversee two Ebola treatment units and a training center for international and local health care workers. Shetty is the global emergency health coordinator for the International Medical Corps, a partner in the American-led fight against Ebola in West Africa. He left his home outside Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22 for another two-month stint in West Africa.

Shetty was selected to represent the thousands of health care workers who were collectively named Time magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year, according to the official White House Blog site.