Camden News

Monday
February 19, 2018
Camden News

Elders is guest at SAUT event

By Tammy Frazier
This article was published February 12, 2018 at 4:34 p.m.

— By TAMMY FRAZIER

Managing editor

Tickets are now on sale for SAU Tech's Black History Celebration to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center on the SAUT campus. The guest speaker for this year's program will be Dr. Joycelyn Elders - the 15th Surgeon of the United States and the first African American to head the U.S. Public Health Service.

Tickets are on sale until the end of the business day today at SAU Tech. The tickets are $25 per individual; $175 per table; and $200 per VIP table.

For more info., call 870-574-4495, or send an email request to rivens@sautech.edu.

The website www.cfmedicine.com states that Elders was also the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology.

According to www.notablebiographies.com, Elders was confirmed as the 15th surgeon general of the United States on Sept. 7, 1993. Not only is she the first African American to head the U.S. Public Health Service, she is only the second female to ever do so.

During her 15 months as surgeon general, Elders added tobacco use, national health care, and drug and alcohol abuse to her list of major concerns, the website states.

Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones on Aug. 13, 1933, in the farming community of Schaal, Arkansas, according to www.notable biographies.com. She took the name Joycelyn in college. Living in a poor, segregated area, she and her seven siblings worked in the cotton fields and attended an all-black school 13 miles from home. 'Home' was a three-room cabin that lacked an indoor toilet and electricity.

The website reports that one of Elders's earliest memories was of being taught to read by her mother, who had an eighth grade education, which was quite remarkable for an African American woman at that time. By the time Elders neared graduation from high school, she had earned a scholarship to the all-black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Initially college looked doubtful for Elders because her father did not want to let her go. However, her grandmother persuaded Elders's father to let her attend. Elders's family picked extra cotton to earn the $3.43 for her bus fare to Little Rock, and she became the first in her family to attend college.

At school, Elders was especially interested in the study of biology and chemistry and wanted to become a lab technician. Her goal changed when she heard a speech by Edith Irby Jones (1927–), the first African American to study at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. Elders, who had not even met a doctor until she was sixteen, realized that she wanted to be a physician. After graduating from college, she joined the U.S. Army's Women's Medical Specialist Corps.

She also became a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

In 1987, then-governor Bill Clinton named Elders to be the director of the Arkansas Department of Health. Elders was appointed to be the U.S. Surgeon General by President Clinton in 1993.

Elders left office in 1994 and in 1995, she returned to the University of Arkansas as a faculty researcher and professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. In 1996, she wrote her autobiography, "Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper's Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America."

Now retired from practice, she is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, and remains active in public health education, states www.cfmedicine.com.

According to the SAU Tech website, Elders is the recipient of awards such as the Arkansas Democrat’s Woman of the Year, the National Governor’s Association Distinguished Service Award, the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award, the De Lee Humanitarian Award, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Candace Award for Health Science.

Elders has also received multiple honorary doctor of medical sciences degrees and honorary doctorate of letters degrees.

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