Eli Capilouto

Our Work is Rooted in Community

Published: Aug 8, 2014

 

When Dr. Tom Frieden, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, worked on public health issues in India many years ago, he knew it was easy to become daunted by the massive challenges confronting that country and its people.

 

He developed a motto for his staff, who tirelessly worked to make a difference even though many days the challenges seemed insurmountable.

 

"Irrational optimism,” he would say at the start of each day, "is a prerequisite for success.”

 

This week, in a conference room at the Hazard Community and Technical College, I saw firsthand the power and potential of “irrational optimism.”

 

Along with hundreds of others — including Dr. Frieden and Congressman Hal Rogers — I participated in a daylong symposium on health issues. It’s part of the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) campaign being led by Congressman Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear.

 

One of our own, Dr. Nikki Stone, a dentist, is leading SOAR’s committee on health issues. Several of our faculty and staff who work on the most critical issues confronting Appalachia also were present.

 

It would be easy, looking at the mountains to climb, to become discouraged. After all, of Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian counties, 41 are classified as “distressed,” meaning their economic indicators place them among the lowest 10 percent in the country. A recent New York Times article went so far as to label one of those counties, Clay County, as the most difficult place in America to live.

 

But where so many see problems, Kentuckians see potential. Where others place limits and barriers, Kentuckians see the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

 

One of the key reasons for the pervasive sense of optimism in that room is the University of Kentucky. I was proud to represent UK at the SOAR symposium as we announced two major initiatives — in partnership with the CDC, National Institutes of Health, Appalachian Regional Commission and Appalachian Regional Hospitals — to directly address health-care needs in the mountains. 

 

One is a five-year, $1.5 million project to help patients with cancer navigate the often confusing and growing system of treatment options; the other program is the development of an intensive three-week initiative to train community leaders and health-care leaders in the mountains. These are just two of dozens of programs and initiatives we are conducting for — and most importantly, with — communities throughout the mountains. From unlocking through research the mysteries of disease at the cellular level to engaging in evidenced-based approaches to problems at the community level, UK is investing in micro interventions that, taken together, offer the promise of macro-level change.

 

It is what we do each day. It is in our DNA.

 

I recently heard an interview on a favorite radio show of mine with the leader of a church in Denver — the House of All Sinners and Saints. She was discussing the idea of what it means to be human; what it means to be part of a community.

 

The minister said she disagreed with the notion that God will never give you more than you can handle. “God,” she said, “will never give you more than your community can bear or you as a member of a community.”

 

The idea, of course, is that we all need each other. And we all have responsibilities to each other. That’s what it means to be part of — and partners with — community.

 

At the University of Kentucky, we are part of a special community, 150 years strong and with infinite promise still to achieve. And it’s our work, in partnership with communities across the Commonwealth, that creates the possibility of turning irrational optimism into success for our Commonwealth and beyond.

September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
#maxfest (Ukirklex Campus Ministry)
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Working Moms Connection
Job Club - Job Search Strategies for Fall
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
The Future of Islam
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
9/11 Vigil
UKNABJ presents: Ferguson, Missouri: A look at media, politics and black youth in the U.S.
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
Duo Damiana, Molly Barth and Dieter Hennings
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Chellgren Seminar Series: Buck Ryan
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Big Blue Commonwealth
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ryan Gardner Guest Trumpet Recital
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
The Case for Fossil Fuels-PEIK Seminar
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
College of Pharmacy Open House
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Diana Ferrus: 'Writing poetry has allowed me to live': Cultural Resistance in South Africa
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Pinterest Party
University of Kentucky Chamber Winds
Employer Showcase
Job Club - 10 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting a Business
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
BPH Open House
Documentary Film Screening - Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
¡Baila!
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Opening Night Bohemiam Festival
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Green Apple Day of Service: "Pick It Up"
Garba Night
Swing Dancing!
Sat
28
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
UK Chorale
Dirty Dancing Trip
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
#TrendingTopics: Immigration Reform
Apollo Duo - Flute and Percussion Guest Recital
Tue
 
 
 
 

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