Presentation by Dr. Jacob Atem, Lost Boy of Sudan
Cheryl Darnton/Jaime Dudash
Dr. Jacob Atem would present to Mill Creek students or Dexter High School students, reaching all pupils in grades 7-12. His presentation focuses on his story as a Lost Boy of Sudan, the resilience he continues to experience as a survivor and as a difference maker in the world as a co-founder of the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO), and as an educator.
Dr. Jacob Atem is a Lost Boy of Sudan. Jacob first came to Mill Creek as a college-age guest speaker about 15 years ago, an acquaintance of former Mill Creek teacher, Brooke Spencer. At that time he was in the process of fundraising to open the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO https://sshco.org/). He taught our students about his project, inspiring them with his optimism and positive attitude. (He has consistently stayed in contact with Mill Creek over the years, visiting in person from East Lansing while working on his Masters's degree and from Florida when he was in the area visiting friends and his foster family. During the Covid period, he presented to an academic team of Mill Creek students in a Zoom meeting.)
Jacob Atem walked 2,000 miles with other boys from his region to flee civil war after his village was burned and the adults were killed by armed government forces from Northern Sudan. Jacob was adopted from Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya as an older teen by a family in Webberville, Michigan, where he graduated from high school. He attended Spring Arbor University for his BA, Michigan State for his MA, and he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Florida, specializing in Global Public Health.
Jacob is a co-founder of the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO). In Maar, South Sudan, where Jacob was born, people had to walk 4 days to the nearest healthcare clinic when he was a child. As a survivor, he decided to create a healthcare organization to provide healthcare to the people of the Maar region. His life's work has been to make a difference for others, and he spent his youth educating himself to be able to do this. Terrible flooding over the past 2 years in South Sudan has created a lot of problems that the SSHCO is working to assist with by creating mobile clinics to serve the internally displaced persons, and to start schools for the children in the displacement camps <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49Xx43mUwe4>.
Dr. Jacob Atem is a global citizen. He has committed his life to helping others. He is a role model for our students due to the incredible resilience he has demonstrated throughout his life and his commitment to making a difference in the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet.
His presentation would merge well with a major part of the stated mission of DCS: To educate and inspire.