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Commencement Speakers Have Varied, Illustrious Backgrounds

By Jean K. Lee
Associate News Editor

The two speakers at the 120th commencement ceremonies of the Institute each have a plethora of accomplishments and achievements under their belt, yet they come from nearly entirely different backgrounds.

David D. Ho

A veteran of AIDS research, David D. Ho has recently been under the spotlight for developing a combination of drugs that attacks the virus which ultimately causes AIDS.

Ho is not a stranger to MIT. He attended MIT for a year as an undergraduate and took classes in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology program during his years at Harvard Medical School. After his freshman year at MIT in 1970 as a physics student, Ho transferred to the California Institute of Technology.

For more than a decade, Ho has worked on AIDS research. He was honored by Time Magazine as its 1996 Man of the Year for developing a strategy of attacking HIV in the early stages of infection. The treatment uses a variety of anti-viral drugs in combination with a special inhibitor of the HIV protease.

Currently the director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City, the world's largest independent AIDS research laboratory, and a professor at Rockefeller University, his research continues to focus on vaccine development.

Ho was born in Taiwan in 1952. His family moved to the United States when he was 12 years old. Not even knowing the Roman alphabet when he first arrived in central Los Angeles, Ho overcame many obstacles in adapting to the American ways of life as well as succeeding academically that helped to lead his career path.

Although Ho had initially been intrigued by physics and mathematics, he became interested with the new biology of the 1970s and pursued AIDS research, especially after witnessing some of the earliest cases of AIDS while serving as chief medical resident at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

William J. Clinton

William J. Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States has been intrigued by a political career for a long time.

Prior to his election to statewide office, Clinton had earned a BA in international affairs from Georgetown University, won a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University, and graduated from Yale University Law School. In 1973, Clinton returned to Arkansas and taught briefly at the University of Arkansas Law School before embarking on a political career.

In 1976 Clinton was elected as Arkansas attorney general and went on to win the governorship in 1978, making him the nation's youngest governor at age 32. Although he lost his bid for re-election in 1980, Clinton regained governorship in 1982, a position he retained for five consecutive terms. n 1990, he became chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and was rated the most effective governor in the country by his colleagues.

Clinton's presidential agenda focused on education, health care, welfare reform, the economy and the environment. Clinton's efforts in foreign policy ever since his presidency began in 1993 include brokering peace in Bosnia and Somalia and overseeing peace negotiations between Israel, Palestinians and Arab states.

In 1994, he worked out an agreement with the Cuban government to allow more refugees into the country. Clinton also deployed US troops in Kuwait when Iraq appeared to threaten its neighbors protesting UN sanctions.

Clinton vetoed legislation to lift the Bosnian arms embargo in 1995 and actively worked toward an agreement among the warring parties. He also resolved a major conflict with North Korea by working out an agreement which offered North Korea assistance with its civilian nuclear program in return for relinquishing plutonium producing nuclear reactors.

In domestic affairs, Clinton has worked to revitalize the US economy and renew the American community. Under his massive deficit reduction plan and through increased public and private investment, he led a trade agreement with Mexico, aid to Russia, and tax cuts for small businesses to boost living standards and create jobs. He also worked to place many women and minorities in prominent government positions. Other initiatives included a new national health care plan and welfare reform as well as a reform of public education.

Clinton was born in Arkansas in 1946. As a delegate to Boys Nation while in high school, his encounter with President Kennedy at the White House ultimately inspired him to enter a public service career.