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Surgeon General to address Xavier’s 2013 graduates

22nd April 2013   ·   0 Comments

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin will deliver the Xavier University Spring 2013 commencement address at the XU Convocation Center on Saturday, May 11. The ceremony, which will start at 10 a.m., will be the first on the uptown New Orleans Xavier campus since 1983.

Over the past three decades, Xavier has utilized various venues across the city including the UNO Lakefront Arena and the New Orleans Arena to accommodate XU graduates and their families.

“Commencement is always an extraordinary time for Xavier and bringing the exercises back to campus will certainly make it very special,” Xavier University President Dr. Norman C. Francis said.Dr.-Regina-Benjamin

Dr. Benjamin, a 1979 Xavier graduate, will speak in her alma mater’s Convocation Center to about 550 graduates and their loved ones, friends and well-wishers.

The annual Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation will be held May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

Benjamin, 56, earned a medical degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a MBA from Tulane University. She has received 18 honorary degrees.

Before Dr. Benjamin was tapped by Presi­dent Barack Obama to serve as Surgeon General in 2009, she had been a rural family doctor in Alabama who founded the Bayou LaBatre Rural Health Clinic, which cared for a mostly uninsured, working-class community that had been hit hard by Hurricanes Georges and Katrina.

Dr. Benjamin was the first African-American woman and the first person under age 40 to be elected to the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees. In 1998, Dr. Benjamin was the United States recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. She received the 2000 National Caring Award which was inspired by Mother Teresa and was recognized with the Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict XVI. In 2008, she was honored with a MacArthur Genius Award Fellowship. In 2011, Dr. Benjamin became the recipient of the Chairman’s Award during the worldwide broadcast of the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

“Xavier University is proud of Dr. Regina Benjamin because of all her accomplishments, bot more importantly because she embodies the vision and core values articulated by St. Katharine Drexel when Xavier began,” Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis said.

This article originally published in the April 22, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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