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TTU News

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, the first African-American woman to hold that post, will present a lecture at Tennessee Tech University’s Derryberry Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The topic of her talk will be “Global Healthcare in the 21st Century.”

While serving as Surgeon General under former President Clinton, Elders initiated programs to combat youth smoking and teen pregnancy and to increase childhood immunizations.

Upon her appointment to that post, Elders said, “I want to change the way we think about health by putting prevention first. I want to be the voice and vision of the poor and powerless. I want to change concern about social problems that affect health into commitment. And I would like to make every child born in America a wanted child.”

As the daughter of an African-American sharecropper who never visited a physician until her first year of college, Elders considers herself as an appropriate representative to uphold the rights and needs of the underprivileged.

She advocates public health over profits in health care reform, openness over censorship in sex education and rehabilitation over incarceration in matters of drug addiction.

When she was 15, she received a scholarship from the United Methodist Church to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., and upon her graduation at age 18, Elders served for three years in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant and trained as a physical therapist.

She attended the University of Arkansas Medical School on the G.I. Bill and both joined the school’s faculty and received board certification as a pediatric endocrinologist in 1978.

After her service as Surgeon General, Elders returned to the university as a professor of pediatrics and also serves as a Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the University of Arkansas.

Honors for which Elders has been recognized include “100 Outstanding Women in Arkansas” and “Distinguished Women in America.” Some of the awards she has received are Arkansas Democrats Woman of the Year, American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Candace Award for Health Science.

Elders’ presentation at TTU is a Center Stage event that is free and open to the public.