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August 16, 2007

Philanthropist David Walton to speak at ULM Convocation Aug. 22

Humanitarian and doctor David Walton will speak with the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s new and returning students at ULM’s sixth annual Convocation, ULM’s official opening of the academic year, Wednesday, Aug. 22 from 5 – 6 p.m. in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Walton’s words will be especially meaningful to ULM’s incoming freshmen. As a part of ULM’s Summer Reading Program, incoming freshman read Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.” In the book, Kidder illustrates how one person can make a difference in the world through a purpose-driven life.

ULM’s Convocation speaker met Dr. Farmer during his first year of medical school and became his research assistant. While Walton could have sought out a comfortable practice somewhere in the U.S., he works 16-hour shifts and eats simple food while tending to people who travel by bus or on foot for half a day or longer to be cared for.

Farmer and colleagues created “Partners in Health” during his work in Haiti. This organization’s mission is to bring health care and social justice to the poor of the world, not only in instances of emergency, but also as a lasting partnership that will take root and grow.

Walton was one of the first candidates to be selected for the Howard Hiatt Residency in Global Health Equity and Internal Medicine. He has been working with Partners in Health since 1997 and is currently a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He divides his time between Boston and Haiti.

According to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Web site, Walton said he knew he wanted to use his medical degree in “resource-poor communities…The medicine is the same, it is just the path that is different. The challenges we face are central to our mission, which is redefining academic medicine so that medical centers can create a pathway for people to be more involved in global health. It is still difficult for motivated people to find tools to serve the poor and to serve the poor in an all-encompassing way. It is still a challenge for most physicians to find time to do this type of work.”

More about Convocation March:

More about Mountains Beyond Mountains:

This riveting true story illustrates how one person can make a difference, as Kidder tells the true story of a gifted man who is in love with the world and has set out to do all he can to cure it.

At the center of “Mountains Beyond Mountains” stands Paul Farmer a doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, and the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant. Farmer grew up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most.

“Mountains Beyond Mountains” takes the reader from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity,” a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the help of the Gates Foundation, George Soros, the U.N. World Health Organization, and others in his quest to cure the world.

At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb Beyond mountains there are mountains: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

More about Summer Reading Program:

Implemented in 2005, the Summer Reading Program is designed to introduce first-year students to intellectual exchange at ULM. The program provides students with a preview of college study. For more information about this program, please visit

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