Peru State alum, Joseph Fauver, speaks at Rotary conference for Nebraska and Iowa.

Peru State alum, Joseph Fauver, speaks at Rotary conference for Nebraska and Iowa.

Lincoln, Nebraska- Joseph Fauver spoke at the Rotary District 5650 Conference on the importance of Rotaract and Peru State faculty in his decision to study biochemistry. Fauver is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Colorado State University studying Microbiology and Medical Entomology.

Fauver presenting at the conference.

Fauver presenting at the conference.

Jennifer Brinkman, the district conference planner, writes, “Joseph’s talk was such a hit and it was really wonderful to meet all of the people invited to hear him speak.”

Originally, Fauver attended Peru State on a football scholarship with the intention of eventually studying physical therapy. While at Peru State, he was an undergraduate researcher under the direction of Dr. Rich Clopton. Through research and coursework, he was exposed to the scientific side of neglected tropical diseases.

Fauver told his story at the conference, “Dr. Rich Clopton approached me in the hallway of the Hoyt Science Building with an opportunity to join his research lab. Little did I know Dr. Clopton and wife, Deb, studied cockroaches, to be more specific they study little parasites called gregarines that lived inside of cockroaches.”

“It also turns out that studying gregarines in fact would not help me get into physical therapy school, because I was no longer going to physical therapy school. I was going to be a scientist. I spent my next three years travelling across the country with Dr. Clopton, Deb and my fellow lab mates presenting research at conferences, doing field work, smuggling cockroaches onto airplanes and, most importantly, learning how to be a scientist. It is a strange thing to realize how in just four short years, the way I saw the world completely changed. “

Fauver finishes, “Peru State College has a small, but dedicated faculty of science professors, to whom I am forever indebted for introducing me to my passion, this collective human undertaking to understand the world around us, what we affectionately refer to as science.”

While at Peru State, Fauver was a founder of the Peru State Rotaract club in 2012. He was president of the club and their largest project was a fundraiser for the BAWA Health Initiative. This initiative is dedicated to improving lives in sub- Saharan Africa through health care intervention and providing the resources to villagers in rural Cameroon to combat disease.

“Right around this time, a colleague of Dr. Clopton and fellow parasitologist, Dr. Dennis Richardson, came to Peru State as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. . . Dr. Richardson spoke about how and why he started a non-profit organization called the Bawa Health Initiative. The Bawa Health Initiative aims to improve the quality of life in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Cameroon, by providing locals with the infrastructure, education and resources they need to combat their most common inflictions, namely malaria and other infectious diseases.”

This led directly to Fauver’s last project as Rotract President at Peru State College. It was a dinner and music to raise money for the Bawa Health Initiative.

“That night we raised over $1300 for the Bawa Health Initiative, which subsequently helped build a healthcare clinic in rural Cameroon. I still get choked up thinking about this, because a group of like minded college students came together under the right guidance, and because people in the community were so supportive of us and our projects, the lives of hundreds of people in Cameroon, people we had never met nor will ever meet, were changed forever.”

“This was powerful. We made a discovery that night. We found that not only did we have the ability to help people in a country that we likely couldn’t have even pointed out on a map, but in fact we found out that we should be helping these people. We should be actively striving to make a difference for the better. It was no longer an option. It was an obligation.”

“I spent four years at Peru State having my mind prepared by people like Dan and Elaine Hanson, Rich and Deb Clopton, Dr. Mike Barger (a fantastic ecologist and one of the best lecturers I have ever met), not to mention the unwavering love and support I received from my mom, Roxanna, and my dad, Mike, who seems to be an infinite source of wisdom and provides a perspective uniquely his own.”

“All of this resulted in me doing what I do today, and what I plan on doing for the rest of my life. I study infectious disease. I study mosquitoes and the pathogens they spread to people.”

From the combination of research, coursework, direction from mentors, and Rotaract, Joseph decided to dedicate his career to helping fight neglected tropical diseases.

Fauver continues, “I am so proud to say I’m a part of a group like Rotary that works to treat and end diseases and infections across the world. The Rotaract Club didn’t stop at Peru State. The principles of Rotoract continues into our careers and lives today.”

Family including his father and stepmother, Mike and Amanda Fauver; his mother and stepfather, Roxanna and Mark Sok; and his girlfriend, Taylor Lite, witnessed Fauver’s speech at the Rotary District Conference. Rich and Deb Clopton, Dan and Elaine Hanson and four of the Peru State Rotaract founding members, Nathan Bianchi, Jon Holman, Tyler Nutsch and Jake Hedden, were also present.

Fauver with Elaine Hanson and four of the Peru State Rotaract founding members, Nathan Bianchi, Jon Holman, Tyler Nutsch and Jake Hodden,

Fauver with Elaine Hanson and four of the Peru State Rotaract founding members, Nathan Bianchi, Jon Holman, Tyler Nutsch and Jake Hedden,

The four Rotaract Clubs in District 5650 are Wayne State College, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Omaha and Peru State College. Local Rotary clubs sponsor each Rotaract club. Peru State College Rotaract is sponsored by the Rotarians of Auburn, Falls City, Humboldt, Nebraska City and Pawnee.

Rotaract is a part of Rotary International. There are 8,754 Rotaract clubs and 20,342 members around the world. Individual Rotary clubs sponsor Rotaract clubs and offer guidance and support, making the Rotaract club true “partners in service” and key members of the family of Rotary.


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About Peru State College: Nestled in the historic hills of the Missouri River, the “Campus of a Thousand Oaks” is Nebraska’s oldest college and will celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017. Peru State College’s constant commitment to academic excellence has resulted in a unique and innovative mix of online, traditional, undergraduate and graduate programs. Similarly, the college’s ongoing student engagement promotes inquiry, discovery and innovation on-campus and across the region. Peru State College is committed to being a good steward of education, students, the region and Nebraska for another 150 years.