Being the second female and first African American female to serve as Surgeon General, was just another milestone in the career of Dr. Joycelyn Elders.
In 1960, she graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Though not the first African American female to do so, she was very much in a minority for both her race and her gender. In 1967, she would return to UAMS as a faculty member.
After two decades of service as a physician and educator, Governor Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987. She was the first African American woman to lead that department. She led that department until 1992. At that point in time, President Bill Clinton tapped her to be Surgeon General.
Upon leaving the post of Surgeon General, she returned to UAMS as a professor. She is now a professor emeritus. Dr. Elders is also in demand as a lecturer and panelist.
She has been inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail.