203A Howell-McDowell

Morehead, KY 40351

Dr. Caroline Atkins

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© 2019 Morehead State University

Keynote Speaker:  Eric Alva

This decorated Iraq war veteran and gay rights activist encourages audiences to embrace diversity and support tolerance, no matter the challenges before them.

The first American soldier injured in the Iraq War, Eric was hailed as an American hero, and individuals from Donald Rumsfeld to President George W. Bush visited the Marine veteran during his recovery.  While he lost his leg in combat, Eric's spirit remained stronger than ever--upon retirement, he came out as gay, and went on to play an instrumental role in the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual service members, working with members of Congress to end the discriminatory practice.

A former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, Eric shares his poignant story of hope and courage, urging audiences to make the world a better place for those who have felt the pain and anguish of hate and discrimination.  Drawing on his experience in the battle for equality, he discusses the difficulties faced by gays and lesbians in the military, emphasizing that by doing the right thing, working hard, standing for what you believe in, and being true to yourself, any obstacle can be conquered.