Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Hold fast to dreams 
for if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly

Hold fast to dreams
for when dreams go
Life is a barren field
frozen with snow

~ Langston Hughes


Support is everything. It is. I come home from work some days and feel tired and exhausted. Like literally, completely spent. Then I sit and reflect and think and write. I talk to my colleagues and my husband and lean on them. I run into my students and see the belief, trust and support that they have in their eyes. Then I'm reminded of the reasons that we do the things we do.

And I feel recharged.

It was a random hallway conversation. I saw this student, Swaisha F., standing there in the lobby of the medical school one day. I realized that I'd seen her many times before but didn't really know her. And I will be very transparent in saying that I feel it is my responsibility to personally know all of the medical students at Emory who happen to be underrepresented minorities. Even if someone else doesn't think that, I do. And yes, I'd spoken to her a few times here and there but, again, I didn't know her. Until that day in the hallway.

The discussion was mostly light. And in it, I asked her questions about who her mentors were and what kinds of career aspirations were on her horizon. And she told me all of these things but when she did I noticed this inexplicable emotion coming through. I couldn't place it. But instead of subjecting her to some analysis, instead we just agreed to get to know each other better. And as we did, I got to understand more of what that heaviness was about.

Anyways. Around this same time, my friend and fellow Grady doctor, Stacy H. and I had just begun co-mentoring a colleague. And in those tag team meetings, we recognized that we are a hell of a team. First of all, we are friends. But second of all, my "hype man" tactics perfectly compliment her meticulous and even-keeled approach. I asked Swaisha to reach out to Stacy H., too. And she held up her end of the bargain. She did.

And from there, we became her rag-tag mentoring team. And no, we are not responsible for any of the things she has successfully accomplished. But we do stand ready, willing and able to remind her of who she is. We do.

Here is the best part:

Every affirmation we give to Swaisha is an affirmation we give to ourselves. I see her and I think: This is what it looks like when someone holds fast to dreams and doesn't let them die. And being involved in her medical education journey gives that same gift back to me. We remind her of who she is which hits us right back like a boomerang telling us of who we are. On a day when I was tired as hell and wanting to crawl out of the hospital on all fours, I saw her while walking into the entrance with Stacy. And we enveloped her in a group hug and all of us in that moment knew that it was symbolic of so much. So, so much. Things hard to put fingers on but that you want to grasp tightly. And that? All of it made me really, truly want to hold fast to what I am supposed to be doing.

All of this is so much bigger than us. My dad has always told me that and now, more than ever, I believe it. What good is any talent or accomplishment or opportunity if it's only about you? I guess my rambly point is this: Nothing is ever just about us. It never, ever is.

At least that's what I think.

Yeah.  So I look at this picture and I feel myself wanting to cry. Taken just yesterday right in front of Grady Hospital on a beautiful and warm yet cool and autumnal afternoon. A young woman of color who is striving to become a doctor is flanked on both sides by two of her mentors. Both of whom not only look like her but believe in her -- and already are doctors.

The light in her face--in ours, too--is triumphant and hopeful. And I swear I stared at this photo for a long time yesterday just imagining us, her two mentors, lifting her straight off of the ground and casting her high into the skies to soar like an eagle.

And her doing just that.

Support is everything. Belief is everything. And with both, dreams never die. They simply expand to include more than any of us ever realized they could. Any of us.


Happy Tuesday. Again.

Damn, I'm glad to be here. In this life, at this moment, I am.


  1. That is one lucky young lady. Two mentors who look like her and want to see her soar like an eagle. Can't get any better than that. And soar she will.

  2. Beautiful, and the main reason why schools in the ATL are on my "short list".

  3. You are such an amazing mentor. And now you are part of Team Mentor! Awesomeness. x0 N2

  4. Beautiful photo and if you were SEC cheerleaders, I can picture you and Stacy holding her up each with one hand in a true pyramid, going to the heavens.


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