Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Although she has been sharply criticized for her outspokenness as well as her stance on such sensitive issues as sex education and abortion, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, M.D., has proven a human study in courage, fortitude and tenacity. A native of Schaal, Arkansas, Dr. Elders is the oldest of eight children. Now a Pediatric Endocrinologist, she never saw a physician prior to her first year in college. At the age of 15 she received a scholarship to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock. Upon graduation at age 18, she entered the US. Army as a first lieutenant and received training as a physical therapist As an African-American and a woman, Dr. Elders made her mark as a trailblazer when in the late 1950’s she entered the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
After graduation in 1960, she served her internship at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis and served a pediatric residency and an endocrinology fellowship at UAMS. She ascended the academic ladder to full professorship after her fellowship and board certification in 1976. In 1978, Dr. Elders joined the faculty at UAMS as a professor of pediatrics and received board certification as a pediatric endocrinologist. Based on her studies of growth in children and the treatment of hormone-related illnesses, she has written many articles for medical research publications. In 1987, she was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Health.
During her term, she was elected president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers. On July 1, 1993, Dr. Elders was nominated Surgeon General of the US. Public Health Service. She was confirmed by the Senate on September 7 of that year and sworn in the next day. She left this post in December 1994 to continue her professional career at UAMS. Dr. Elders has been active in civic affairs as a member of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, Northside YMCA and Youth Home. She was listed in “100 Outstanding Women in Arkansas ” and “Personalities of the South “, as well as “Distinguished Women in America”. She has won awards such as the Arkansas Democrat’s Woman of the Year; the National Governors 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 A ward for health Science. Dr. Elders is the holder of mult4ile honorary doctorate of medical science degrees and honorary doctorate of letters degrees. Dr. Elders is married to Oliver Elders, retired coach at Little Rock Hall High School The couple have two sons, Eric and Kevin.