Wheelock Convocation 2011 Videos

Wheelock College formally opened its 2011-2012 academic year September 14 with a Convocation Ceremony focusing on the disparity in access to healthcare and treatment, the theme at the centerpiece of Wheelock's summer reading book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

Husband and wife medical educators and researchers Dr. W. Michael Byrd and Dr. Linda A Clayton—who along with former Chicago Cultural Affairs Commissioner and arts pioneer Lois Weisberg were each awarded an honorary Wheelock doctorate in education—spoke about their lifetime of work shaping health policies to improve patient care and access to care in the US, particularly for African-Americans and other disadvantaged groups.

Here are some video highlights from their remarks.

Seventeen years into her medical career, Dr. Clayton learned the disturbing history behind the "hela" cells she was using in her lab. She told Wheelock students at the College's 2011 Convocation that the cells' history—described in "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"—caused her to devote her career to improving medical access and quality for African Americans and other disenfranchised Americans.

Education is about uplifting all members of society rather than personal gain, Dr. Byrd told Wheelock students at the College's 2011 Convocation. Byrd called on students to follow the lead of Wheelock founder Lucy Wheelock and take up the challenge of ensuring that they use their education to better society and help the country's most vulnerable citizens.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" highlighted some of the flaws in the US healthcare system, Dr. Clayton told students. She said providing high quality, accessible healthcare to all American citizens is directly linked to Wheelock's mission of improving the lives of children and families.

Dr. Byrd said Wheelock's mission of improving the lives of children and families has never been more important than today, when so many families have little or no access to quality healthcare. He called on students to take inspiration from "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and help reconnect the nation's healthcare system to its social system.

See biographies of Dr. Byrd, Dr. Clayton, and Ms. Weisberg.

Read the full text of Dr. Byrd's and Dr. Clayton's speeches.

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