Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  May 2017  >  May 18, 2017  >  Celebrated humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, reminds Creighton students of their higher calling to mutuality and service in commencement address
Celebrated humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, reminds Creighton students of their higher calling to mutuality and service in commencement address

Dr. Paul FarmerSpeaking on what he called the “solidly Creighton topic” of mutuality at the University’s commencement exercises, internationally renowned physician, anthropologist and humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, delivered a rousing message of what Creighton graduates can and are called to do in a world sometimes consumed by inequity and imbalance.

Using the famed television program “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” as a metaphor, Farmer spun out the story of global health care disparities and the work of two Creighton graduates engaged in helping stamp out that injustice.

Jason Beste, BS’03, MD’08, and his wife, Sara (Franzen) Beste, MD’09, have taken up work with Farmer’s Partners in Health efforts in Liberia and Malawi, tending to people with AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, malaria and Ebola, where Farmer said the couple, in the town of Harper, Liberia, became part of a small cohort of physicians taking the crisis head-on.

“Together with scores of Partners in Health stalwarts, and hundreds of new Liberian colleagues, some of them former patients, the Bestes performed CPR on a run-down Liberian hospital and its largely abandoned affiliated health centers,” Farmer said. “Irrigating the clinical desert is hard, but it wasn’t long before Sara, Jason, and their colleagues saw progress.”

Farmer said the Creighton education the Bestes received continues to be at work as they help refurbish the dilapidated hospital in Liberia and see a new school for nurses open in the area.

Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, said Farmer’s address served as a reminder and reinforcement for graduates across all of Creighton’s nine schools and colleges as they begin to make their way into a world they’ve already learned, through theory and practice, needs their insight, innovation and compassion.

"Dr. Farmer's challenge for 'mutuality' to combat health care disparities is applicable across disciplines and professions," Fr. Hendrickson said. "The message was also fitting given our strengths in health care education, our long-term relationship in the Dominican Republic, recent expansions in global programming, and our Jesuit pedagogy of critical thinking, discernment, and service to others."

In closing, Farmer again invoked the reminders of the Creighton mission and the Jesuit ideals of reflection and discernment.

“As you leave Creighton for a world in which you are likely to flourish — as the Bestes did a decade ago — think about how we might all do our bit to address health and other disparities, no matter how we define our communities,” he said. “I’m confident you will.”

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