Students and faculty gathered for the freshman convocation on Bellarmine Lawn Friday at which Dr. Paul Farmer, activist and novelist, addressed the class of 2010.

Farmer was also the focus of a required summer reading book for incoming freshman entitled, “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World,” by Tracy Kidder.

Addressing the Fairfield community in a laid back manner, Farmer explained the benefits of being a “person for others” through ongoing student activism on campus and stressed the importance of reaching out to young people to affect change.

“Student activism has really pushed these issues forward. You’re not supposed to skip classes or relocate to fight AIDS. You have to find a way to do it here (on campus),” he said.

He also focused on the issue of health care, reminding the audience that health care is a social and economic right.

It is essential for our global community to unite in solidarity, Farmer said, to provide efficient health care to all people.

Farmer is a graduate and professor of Harvard University, a medical doctor, an anthropologist and a human right’s activist.

He divides his time between a well established clinic and hospital in Haiti, as well as similar facilities in Rwanda, the U.S. and Paris.

Farmer, who has brought the idea of community-based health care to the foreground of medical development globally, also studies illnesses that affect the poor, most significantly HIV and AIDS.

He has also done extensive work producing treatments for tuberculosis.

“If you ask me when is a good time for students to start work in social activism, the answer is yesterday,” added Farmer.

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