Versailles, Ky. – Dr. Joycelyn Elders, M.D., will be the keynote speaker at Frontier Nursing University’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, September 28 in Lexington, Ky.
Dr. Elders became the 15th Surgeon General of the United States when she was appointed to that post by President Clinton in 1993. She also was the first African American, and only the second woman to serve as the U.S. Surgeon General.
Born in 1933 in the rural farming community of Schaal, Ark., Elders was the eldest of eight children. She graduated from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, then joined the Army and trained in physical therapy at the Brook Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In 1956, she enrolled at the University of Arkansas Medical School on the G.I. Bill.
She married Oliver Elders in 1960. After studying pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, she returned to Little Rock 1961 to do her residency. Over the next 20 years, she maintained a successful office practice while also researching pediatric endocrinology and becoming an expert in growth problems and juvenile diabetes. This research led her to realize that diabetic women face a health risk if they become pregnant too young.
In 1987, then Governor Bill Clinton named Elders director of the Arkansas Department of Health. Under her direction, 19 Arkansas schools opened health clinics. In 1989 the Arkansas State Legislature ordered the creation of a kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade curriculum including not only sex education but also instruction in hygiene, substance-abuse prevention, self-esteem, and equal sexual responsibility among both males and females.
After serving as the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Elders returned to the University of Arkansas in 1995 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.
“It is a tremendous honor to have Dr. Elders join us as the keynote speaker for our 2019 commencement ceremony,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone. “Dr. Elders’ amazing journey and ground-breaking achievements inspire us all. We are so thankful and proud that she is sharing her story with our graduates and their families.”
FNU’s commencement ceremony honors the nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners who have completed the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, Master in Science of Nursing degree, or Post-Graduate Certificate. In 2018, more than 1,600 people attended FNU’s commencement ceremony to celebrate the graduation of more than 800 nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners.
About Frontier Nursing University:
The mission of FNU is to provide accessible nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner education to prepare competent, entrepreneurial, ethical, and compassionate leaders in primary care to serve all individuals with an emphasis on women and families in diverse, rural, and underserved populations. FNU offers graduate Nurse-Midwifery and Nurse-Practitioner distance education programs that can be pursued full- or part-time with the student’s home community serving as the classroom. Degrees and options offered include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Post-Graduate Certificates. To learn more about FNU and the programs and degrees offered, please visit Frontier.edu.