Individual achievement fuels family joy

The celebrants at DMU’s 112th annual commencement ceremony reflected the fact that earning a health sciences degree can be a family affair.

Of all the journeys represented by all the people on DMU’s commencement stage on May 26, that of Jaap Jan Lind is perhaps most epic. Born in Holland in 1922, he had completed one year of his pharmacy education when the Germans took over and closed the schools during World War II. Forced to work in a hospital pharmacy in Berlin, he sometimes sneaked out to visit his three brothers in prison camps. After his father sent him fake papers that let him return to Holland, Lind joined the Dutch Underground, delivering newspapers until the war ended.

Lind went on to earn his medical degree at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and then landed a position with a Kansas City hospital. In the early 1960s, he and his wife, Ruth, moved their family to the Panama Canal Zone, where he was the first orthopedic resident at Gorgas Hospital. Eventually settling in West Lafayette, IN, Lind retired in 1986, volunteered for the International Medical Corps and spent a month providing care in Somalia, a civil warwracked nation in Africa.

Among the 29 family members who hooded graduates was Vaughn Johnson, M.D., right, father of Clark Johnson, D.P.M.’12.

“I really admire my grandfather for being such an honorable man,” says Lind’s granddaughter, Jessica Lind, who graduated from DMU’s physical therapy program. “He is who I strive to be like, as a person and a medical professional.”

She was hooded by her grandfather during the ceremony, one of myriad special moments in DMU’s com mencement festivities. They included the annual campus picnic, a ceremony honoring 16 graduates serving in the military, a Friday evening reception and the three college banquets.

In her charge to the Class of 2012 at commencement, DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., encouraged graduates to fulfill the mission of delivering medical care, advancing knowledge and strengthening the health care system.

“Be possessed of an outrageous ambition to make things better,” she said.

“We need you to be leaders”

David Satcher likely would have died of whooping cough and pneumonia at age two if the one black doctor in his rural Alabama community had not made a house call on his day off. Told that story multiple times as a child, Satcher knew by age six that he would become a doctor.

“I was as certain of that as much as anything in my life, even though no one in my family had finished high school,” he says.

Satcher’s deep commitment to health care for all underscored his keynote address at DMU’s commencement ceremony on May 26. The 16th surgeon general of the United States and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among his many other leadership roles, he encouraged the graduates to embdy the “three very important dimensions of ethical leadership” – integrity, civility and community.

“Integrity involves having a conversation with yourself, in which you ask yourself questions such as, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I stand for?’” he said.

Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., FAAFP, FACP M, FACP , shared advice that his father gave him before he boarded a Greyhound bus for the Morehouse College campus.

“He said, “You’re going to meet a lot of people. Some of these people will have much more than you; some of them will have less. I want you to promise me that you will treat everybody with respect.’”

That was an important lesson in civility. “I don’t think any advice has been more important to me than that advice from Wilmer Satcher, who never finished elementary school but who was wise in so many ways and, because of that, a great father,” Satcher said.

Finally, he encouraged graduates to embrace a spirit of community to achieve health care access for all people.

“We must come together to work toward global health equity, beginning with equity of access to quality health care in the United States,” he said.

DMU awarded Satcher an honorary doctor of science degree. The former president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville and of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, he established the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse in 2006 as an extension of his work in improving public health policy for all Americans and eliminating health disparities.

Satcher concluded his comments with one of his favorite quotations by Benjamin Elijah Mays, president of Morehouse College from 1940 to 1967.

“It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream,” Satcher stated. “It is not a disgrace to fail to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.

“Not failure, but low aim is the greatest sin. So whatever you do, do not be guilty of low aim.”

Commencement 2012 photos

Commencement 2012 videos

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