John Dau, a genocide survivor who now leads efforts to provide medical assistance to people in Sudan, will deliver the 2013 Alma College commencement address.
Dau, founder and president of the John Dau Foundation, also will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree during the ceremony for approximately 290 graduation candidates.
Commencement takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20 in the Hogan Center, Art Smith Arena. A baccalaureate service precedes graduation at 10:30 a.m. in Dunning Memorial Chapel.
“John Dau is a compelling speaker and a natural leader who has an amazing life story of courage and perseverance under horrific circumstances,” says Alma College President Jeff Abernathy. “John Dau’s story is an inspiration to us at Alma, and we are delighted to welcome him back to campus as our graduation speaker.”
Born in war-torn Sudan, Dau used the extreme hardship of his youth to change his life and become a voice for the people still suffering in his homeland. Forced to flee his village, Dau became one of the thousands of “Lost Boys of Sudan.” For five years, Dau led groups of displaced boys across Sudan for hundreds of miles facing starvation, disease and violence.
At the age of 17, during his time in a Kenyan refugee camp, Dau was able to attend school where he received his Kenyan Certificate for Secondary Education. In 2001, Dau was selected to immigrate to the United States and settled in Syracuse, N.Y., where he was able to work and eventually earn a bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University.
Today, Dau is president of the John Dau Foundation, which provides medical assistance to people in Sudan. He also has founded three other non-profit organizations and has helped raise more than $3 million to build and run Duk Lost Boys Clinic in his home village of Duk Payuel.
He has received many awards, including the National Geographic Emerging Explorers Award. He also was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader for 2008. Dau previously spoke at Alma College in September 2011.
In a quote on the Dau Foundation website, Dau states, “I think people refuse to try things because they fear failure. There have been many impossible situations in my life, but I keep trying. My family in Sudan thought I was dead, and I feared they were dead, but 20 years later we were reunited. You can’t give up.”