June 8, 2011
Coming from a small town, Malcolm Bruni '92C had much to learn when he arrived at Emory in 1988, not just academically, but personally as well. He was a young gay man coming to terms with his sexuality during the height of the nation's AIDS epidemic, and he had little information or support.
He credits Associate Professor Daniel Adame's health education class, which was required of all Emory freshmen, with saving his life. Adame created open dialog in the class about sensitive issues such as sexual health and taught students how to protect themselves from HIV and other pathogens.
"I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee where no one spoke of LGBT issues in a positive way and no one was taught about HIV and how it spread," Bruni says. "Dr. Adame's work and his openness taught me that it was OK to be gay, and it was OK to be safe, and how to be safe."
Now the director of marketing for The Coca-Cola Company, Bruni is honoring his mentor by creating the Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund in the Emory Office of LGBT Life and raising funds toward its $50,000 endowment goal. Bruni and other alumni and friends have given $35,000 so far.
When fully endowed, the fund will provide stipends to support leadership opportunities for two LGBT students or allies each year. In keeping with the values of the fund's namesake, Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund recipients will pursue opportunities related to physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual or environmental health.
Thousands of students have taken Adame's PE 101 course—Health Education: Wellness and Lifestyle Management—which he created when he came to Emory in 1985. The course encouraged open discussions about personal health issues including substance abuse, eating disorders, obesity, sexuality and stress management.
Such topics, Bruni says, "were often left out of students' conversations prior to joining the Emory community," and Emory was rare among its peers for making the course a requirement.
Adame, associate professor of health education and past chair of health, physical education, and dance, retires this year after 26 years of service. The leadership fund will honor his legacy, support Emory's commitment to maintaining a diverse community, and provide development opportunities for outstanding LGBT students and allies.
Emory is on the forefront of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campus issues. The Office of LGBT Life celebrates 20 years at Emory in 2011. In 2010, Emory became the first university in the South to create a scholarship for an LGBT student or ally who works to strengthen the community.
"Hopefully, one day there won't be a need to have an LGBT office. Until then, it's important to develop LGBT leaders and enable them to be more visible within the Emory community," Bruni says.