Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Meeting the 14th Surgeon General of the United States

Pictured with Dr. Antonia Novello, 14th United States Surgeon General

Yesterday, I had the amazing honor of introducing Dr. Antonia Novello, the 14th Surgeon General of the United States to my school! Not only was she the first woman AND Hispanic to hold the position, but that's just one huge accomplishment out of a long list of many that includes being the New York State Health Commissioner during 9/11. She is such an inspiration, and the lecture she gave was really powerful and on point!

My daughter and Dr. Novello loved each other!

The evening before Dr. Novello came to my school, I had the opportunity to join a group of student leaders in having an informal dinner with her. I almost did not attend the dinner because I had a major exam yesterday morning to prepare for, and I also had a conference call Sunday night that conflicted with the dinner. At the last minute, I decided I would stop by to introduce myself and I asked if it would be OK to bring along my daughter (which received no objections) since I did not get a babysitter due to my original conflicts. The dinner ended up starting earlier than planned, so I was actually able to stay for the entire time, and I was so glad I brought my daughter because Dr. Novello loves children! My daughter also Googled Dr. Novello prior to the dinner and wrote a list of questions for her to answer, which apparently surprised everyone, lol. They ended up talking and taking pictures together, and now my daughter is super inspired to go into medicine.

Always an honor to introduce amazing individuals

As for the actual GA-PCOM Diversity Speaker Series, Dr. Novello gave a very powerful speech that focused on the disparities between minorities in both a personal healthcare aspect, and in a medical profession aspect. It was shocking to hear the small number of black men there are entering into medical school, and the fact that black women make up the largest number of applicants to medical school, but the number accepted absolutely does not reflect it. It definitely hit a nerve with me, and made me even more determined to become a leader in healthcare, so that I can be a part of the change that is desperately needed. I especially liked the ten principles to live by that she added at the end of her speech. I was not writing as she spoke, so the bolded below was taken from a blurb about the event on the GA-PCOM Facebook page:

 “She discussed her 10 principles, born from her experience, that have helped her in her life journey. They include: 10) Be a pioneer. Don't be afraid to forge into new directions; 9) Do not deny your roots as you walk the ladder of success; 8) Never underestimate your capabilities; others will do it for you; 7) Achieve the highest level of education - it is the key to the door of opportunity; 6) Set goals for yourself and when doing so, make them realistic and then share them with those who believe in you. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit; 5) When you get to the top, don't forget you owe something back to your peers, your family and your community; 4) Don't be afraid to speak your mind; 3) Take care of yourself spiritually, physically and mentally; 2) Never lose your sense of who you really are, even when others believe they know you better than you know yourself; and 1) Plan big and dream greatness.”           

Dr. Novello's note to my daughter. Such an amazing gift!!!!

I honestly wish I could get a transcript of the entire speech, because it was really good and by far, one of my favorites! Afterwards, we all presented Dr. Novello with gifts from the different student organizations, and she was really happy to receive a framed group picture of all of us from the night before. She made it a point to mention my daughter to the crowd and how impressed she was by her, so you know this made me an extremely proud momma! I even made sure to give Dr. Novello pictures of her and my daughter from the night before as she requested, and she returned one of the smaller pics to me with a note for my daughter that really made my day. I am definitely going to have it framed, and I know it is something that my little one will cherish forever :-) This will be added to the list of one of my most memorable moments as a GA-PCOM student, and I am so incredibly blessed to have wonderful opportunities like this, AND be blessed to have the ability to expose my child to great people and experiences at the same time.


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