*WATCH THIS FIRST *
As you can see from the video clip, the children were heavily engaged and excited because representation of black doctors matter.
They always say big brother is watching, but in fact, little brother is watching even more. Little sister is watching too. The importance of becoming a role model is of utmost priority. Children are the most impressionable people on the planet and they are a prime vigilante. From the things we say, wear, watch, and eat, children watch, copy and repeat.
As a doctor in the making with a public platform, my image means a lot to me. It always has. I have always made it a point to not be caught in comprising positions or circumstances because pictures say a thousand words. Videos say a billion sentences. And the truth is, we can’t all be Kim Kardashian. We can’t all bounce back from scandalous controversies and transform it into a multimillion-dollar empire.
Digital Role Model
In this digital age of Snapchat and Instagram, we must be wary of how we present ourselves before a larger audience. When I was younger, my heroes were mostly people I saw on television and members of my family. My mom at the time was a triple threat. She was a biology teacher, nurse and law school grad. My father was a chemist and educator. My older sister is a well seasoned nurse and business owner. Because of these 3 people in my life, I knew that a career rooted in science and healthcare was right up my ally. I was fortunate to have these people as role models so early on in my life. Many children are not fortunate to become enlightened or given the early motivation that they too, can achieve the heights of their wildest dreams.
As a medical student who actively blogs her life online, I have encountered so many people who have told me that I inspire them and motivate them to keep steadfast in their journey. Many have asked me dozens of questions in regards to their career path. Many have shared their aspirations, doubts, and ambitions. I found this to be so powerful that my social media presence alone was strong enough to bridge strangers in a union of mentorship.
I recently visited Houston, Texas for a conference on increasing diversity in academic medicine. My sister lives in Houston, so I asked her if I could do a show and tell presentation for my nephew’s first-grade class. Of course, she agreed and she helped set up the show and tell day.
The Rhodes School is a charter magnet school committed to leadership and scholarship with a successful mission of having children reading 1.5-2 grade levels ahead. The Rhodes School is located near Acres Home which is a predominantly African American neighborhood. Interestingly enough, the name Acres Home comes from being a major relocation area after slavery was abolished and where slaves were promised their “40 acres and a mule”.
My presentation spoke about my career journey from Dental Hygienist to Medical Doctor, the day in the life of a medical student, the instruments used by medical doctors and lastly, the most fun part. I talked to the children about healthy eating and physical activity. I told them how much I loved to dance and they were so eager to share their passion for dancing as well. We danced together using Beyoncé’s remastered ‘Get Me Bodied’ single titled – ‘Move Your Body’ from Michelle Obama’s 2010 Let’s Move Childhood Obesity campaign. We incorporated several moves, including jump rope, high knee marching, ‘the shoot’, orange justice and of course the floss dance! The kids went wild! I am fortunate to incorporate my love of medicine coupled with my love of Beyoncè choreography to harness community outreach. This was my first outreach of this kind and I hope to keep this incredible campaign alive.
To be honest, I wasn’t ready for the extreme enthusiasm with these children. They wanted to answer every question and knew so much about the medical field that I was blown away! Seeing their little brown faces warmed my heart because this pipeline initiative is something they’ll never forget. There I was, a future doctor, with brown skin, young, vibrant and natural kinky coils, showing them that they too can be in my shoes one day.
Why Black Doctors Matter
Representation matters so much. When you’re so used to seeing people who don’t look like you in higher positions, you sometimes believe it’s impossible to be in their shoes. Once you’re exposed to the reality that your gender, color, race, religion, the creed is not a barrier to your elevation, you’ll never doubt your capabilities. The more black doctors, black engineers, black lawyers, the more children believe in themselves to achieve attainable goals. I learned at this school, every morning they say their affirmations of confidence and success and they are not allowed to use the word can’t. This school is doing an impeccable job at grooming black and brown scholars from a young age, who will most definitely be our future, doctors, lawyers, engineers astronauts, and presidents.
No dream is too grand or minute. They will save lives. They will serve justice. They will create innovative technology. They will fly to the Moon, Mars, and Pluto because the sky is the limit.
I feel so honored to have left a lasting impact. When they grow up and have fond memories of role models, I hope I am imprinted somewhere in that memory palace.
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