Joycelyn Elders to address Spring 2012 graduates

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General will give the keynote address to the Spring 2012 graduating class of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The free, public event will be held May 12 at 3:00 p.m. in the arena of the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

The first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, Dr. Elders was the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States, the first African American and only the second woman to head the U.S. Public Health Service. Long an outspoken advocate of public health, Elders was appointed Surgeon General by President Clinton in 1993.

Born in poor, rural Arkansas to sharecroppers, Dr. Elders won a scholarship to Philander Smith College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1952. Elders did an internship in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, and in 1961 returned to UAMS for her residency. Elders became chief resident in charge of all-white, all-male residents and interns. She earned her master’s degree in biochemistry from UAMS in 1967, became an assistant professor of pediatrics in 1971, and full professor in 1976.

Arkansas governor Bill Clinton named her director of the state’s department of health in 1987 where Elders combined her clinical practice with research in pediatric endocrinology, publishing well over a hundred papers, most dealing with problems of growth and juvenile diabetes. From 1987 to 1992, she nearly doubled childhood immunizations, expanded the state’s prenatal care program, and increased home-care options for the chronically or terminally ill.

Now retired from practice, Dr. Elders is a professor emeritus at UAMS and remains active in public health education.

For more information about commencement, call (870) 575-8487.

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