For Thomas Clark '92, DMS '01, this year's Convocation speaker, soccer is quite literally a way of life. The founder of Grassroot Soccer, an organization that has empowered more than 230,000 African young people to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Clark uses the game to bring people together around something they love to help them confront something they fear. "Nobody wants to come to an AIDS education seminar," he said in a recent interview. "But soccer gets people excited. They show up. They pay attention."
Thomas Clark '92, DMS '01, founder of Grassroot Soccer, will speak at Convocation on September 23.(Photo courtesy Grassroot Soccer)
President James Wright and Student Body President Molly Bode '09 will also speak at Convocation on September 23, the formal opening of Dartmouth's 239th academic year.
VOX of Dartmouth asked Clark three questions in advance of his talk.
Q: What do you want members of the Class of 2012 to know now, almost three decades after the discovery of the AIDS virus?
A: Life expectancy has almost halved in some southern African countries because of HIV. It doesn't have to be that way. This disease is preventable.
Q: One young person said to you, "Doctors and scientists were trying their best, but the solutions are in our hands." How can the '12s use their Dartmouth educations to make a difference?
A: I think being prepared to take action-not being passive-is the key. You have to be prepared to take a risk and not be afraid of a possible failure.
Q: What does Dartmouth mean to you? How did your experience here play into how you've chosen to live your life?
A: I could go on and on about that one. Dartmouth is a special place. I've come back twice now-once for medical school and once with my family as a place to call home. I think the opportunity to live in an idyllic place, surrounded by idealistic and curious people-and still engage in the larger world-is ideal.
By LAUREL STAVIS
Grassroot Soccer and its founder, Thomas Clark '92, DMS '01, have won recognition and honors from around the world. In 2005, Dartmouth awarded Clark the Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award for Emerging Leadership. The American Academy of Pediatrics has given the organization its Annie Dyson Child Advocacy Award. Clark has also received a Draper Richards Fellowship, the MySpace Impact Award, and the Nkosi Johnson Award of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care. Most recently, Grassroot Soccer was honored with the Nike/Ashoka Sports for a Better World Collaborative Competition.
Says Helen Epstein, author of The Invisible Cure, "Grassroot Soccer's work is a refreshing and highly promising effort that can help turn the tide against HIV. Soccer is like a universal language. ... Grassroot Soccer thus reaches large numbers of young people with HIV education, and bases its programs on the best available evidence."
Ethan Zohn, Grassroot Soccer co-founder and CBS Survivor champion will be on the road in support of the organization beginning August 20. Not your ordinary journey, Zohn will dribble a soccer ball from Boston, Mass., to Washington, D.C. VOX wondered where, in late September, Zohn would be in his 550-mile odyssey, and if there was any chance he might be near Dartmouth on Convocation day. According to Clark, Zohn will most likely be in Connecticut by then. "I'm not sure he'll be able to make it [to Hanover]," Clark said. "But I'll get information out to the class so they can track his progress!"
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Last Updated: 12/17/08