Why did you become a physician?
When I saw the movie Jaws for the first time, I wanted to become a marine biologist. When I saw the movie Jurassic Park for the first time, I wanted to become a paleontologist. But after living with my grandmother, I wanted to become a physician.
See, growing up, my family lived with an economic disadvantage. To save money, we moved into a home with ten other relatives where I had to share a sofa bed with my mother and brother at night. However, what I remember most about living in that home was my grandmother and her encouragement. She would often call me to her room and ask me to rub her feet. I never minded doing it because I knew it gave her relief and strength to lead the family. She would tell me every time that one day I would be a physician, and a healer to others. My grandmother meant the world to me. She was my hope. So, the day that I saw her suffer a stroke, and die before my eyes, I was forever changed. My beloved, selfless, caring, Grandmother had been there through every major moment of my life thus far. When I didn’t have anything but ketchup sandwiches to eat, she would give me food from her own plate. When I was down, she would encourage me no matter how tired she was. And when my father died when I was seven, she was there to hold and love me. I knew, on that day that she died, that I had to live up to being the physician that she saw in me. I had to become her healer one day. This is the moment I decided to dedicate my love for the sciences, my energy, and my focus to studying the brain, and eventually treating strokes. I was only fourteen years old, but I still felt a purpose to fulfill that dream of mine, and hers, by becoming a neurologist. I hope to help other people see their loved one return home, instead of preparing a funeral like I had to.
Medicine, and in particular neurology is my passion, but more than that, I feel it is a part of my purpose. Neurology, for me, is a way to tell my grandmother, “Thank you.” She taught me to continue to persevere, even when the odds are against me. She also taught me to make a lot out of a little. But more than that, she taught me that obstacles are opportunities for improvement, and that I can be a healer. Medicine, specifically neurology, became a “no-brainer.”
Tell us about your educational and professional background.
Transitioning from high school into college was a challenge to say the least. I graduated from a high school in Macon, Georgia where only one third of the students were proficient in the sciences. Despite this, I needed to go to college in order to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. In an effort to prevent my mother from stressing about university tuition, I enrolled into Hampton University as a Division 1 NCAA tennis student athlete. However, the lack of academic rigor during my high school years made it hard for me to balance being an athlete and the academic demand of the pre-medicine curriculum. I quickly realized that I was playing “catch-up” and that my academic journey would not be one of many parties, excessive socializing, or wasting time engaging in negative habits. I was challenged as a student athlete trying to maintain the balance between school and sports. Exam grades suffered. Proper study techniques were a foreign concept. The Medical college admission test (MCAT) preparation was inadequate. And I felt discouraged. Nevertheless, I applied to over 50 medical schools and got rejected from all 50. Back to the drawing board. I enrolled in a master’s program at Hampton University and applied to “medical school bootcamp programs” during my summer breaks. Thankfully, I was accepted into UNC School of Medicine’s – Medical Education Development Program, where I met Dr. Cedric Bright and others who instructed me on evidenced based learning strategies. I was forever changed. My grades were forever changed. I ended up attending Ohio University – Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) where I was mentored by Dr. Michael J. Rice, Dr. John Schriner, and Ms. Jill Harman. Upon graduating from OU-HCOM, I entered residency at the University of Kentucky – Albert B Chandler Hospital and College of Medicine where I am specializing in Neurology.
What are your interests outside of medicine?
When not at work, my top priority in terms of time spent goes to my wife. We like to joke together, go for walks and catch each other up on our respective days, and watch comedies or hit tv shows like Survivor. I am a Kentuckian at heart; I bleed Big Blue Nation. I enjoy watching all wildcat sports with my favorites being University of Kentucky football, basketball, and baseball. If I am looking for a more “chill evening” I will try to catch some live music while enjoying a nice meal at a local restaurant. Additionally, staying connected to my faith and faith community is always time well spent.
Why did you join the Lexington Medical Society?
One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill, where he stated that, “we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” The Lexington Medical Society is an organization that prides itself on providing opportunities, resources, and community that feed the life of a physician and their family. This is evident by the wellness seminars, financial stewardship workshops, and racial equity action plans. I joined the Lexington Medical Society to be a part of a life-giving organization that continues to prove its value to central Kentucky physicians and beyond.