UNAIDS director encourages Tuskegee University parents and students
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (October 14, 2013) — Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and under-secretary-general of the United Nations, gave the keynote address at Tuskegee University. Sidibé spoke the university community, parents and alumni at Tuskegee’s Annual Scholarship Convocation and Parents of the Year Recognition Sunday morning in the Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Arena.
Sidibé, who has never been to Alabama, said he was honored to be in a place with such strong links to influential figures in history and the Civil Rights Movement.
During his remarks, Sidibé said the university was known to be a force for transformation and that the students should use their educations to be agents of change.
“Leaders of today don’t accept being leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
Sidibé has been in his current post since January 2009. His vision for UNAIDS is zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths which he has made the end goal of UNAIDS. He has called for the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015.
During his address, Sidibé also called for help continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said that progress has been made in developing more effective drugs and helping more than 10 million people infected with the virus obtain treatment. He said the disease was a metaphor for poverty and exclusion and everyone is needed to aid in fighting against it.
“We’re talking about making a generation free of HIV. That is a collective victory,” he explained.
After his address, Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon and Walter A. Hill, provost, presented Sidibé with an honorary Doctor of Public Health degree, honoris causa.
"I am humbled and inspired to receive this profound honor from Tuskegee University - a legendary institution for excellence in research and the fight for equality," Sidibé said. "With the leadership of President Rochon and the Tuskegee community, we can leverage the commitment of the civil rights movement and young leaders to help end the AIDS epidemic here in the United States and around the world."
Students and parents honored
Later in the program, Tuskegee’s top students were honored for their academic excellence. Honor Roll students were given a scroll and congratulated by Rochon, Hill and Sidibé. Eminent and University Scholars were recognized with certificates and plaques, respectively. The seven University Scholars are also eligible for full tuition scholarships.
Retired Maj. Sylvester and Arlena C. Hendrix of Carrollton, Ga., were named Parents of the Year. They have six children; four of them attended Tuskegee. Currently, two of their grandchildren are students at the university. This year, a new category was added for Parent’s Weekend. Barbara A. Howard of Tuskegee, Ala., was named the first Parent of the Year. Howard is deputy director of program operations for the university’s Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education. She is the mother of four daughters, all graduated from Tuskegee.
© Tuskegee University 2013