Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Full circle.

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

- Langston Hughes (1902 -1967)


1. In 1992, I applied to Emory University School of Medicine. And didn't even get an interview.

2. In 1992, I also applied to Case Western School of Medicine. Got an interview there. But got waitlisted for med school. And never came off the list.

3. In 1992, I started at Meharry Medical College--the school that felt right but that I feared attending because, after Tuskegee University, it would be my second historically black college. I worried it would hurt me in the future. I was wrong.

4. In 1996, I applied to Emory University School of Medicine for Internal Medicine Residency. And didn't even get an interview.

5. In 1996, I applied to several other programs for residency including one of the Case Western affiliates, MetroHealth. I took the interview there only because it coincided with my interview at The Cleveland Clinic. I ended up loving the program at CWRU/MetroHealth. Fortunately, they loved me back.

6. In 2000, I finished my residency at CWRU/MetroHealth and started my chief residency. That same year, I would be selected by the medical students at Case for honorary membership in Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society--one of the highest honors any medical student can achieve. At Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. The same school where I was waitlisted in 1992--and never got in. Yup.

7. In 2001, through a connection I made during my chief residency at CWRU, I applied for my dream job at Grady Hospital. Specifically with Emory University School of Medicine. The same place that didn't grant me an interview in 1992 or 1996. This time they not only interviewed me--they chose me.

Guess the third time was the charm.

One year ago today on April 24, 2018, I stood at a podium at the Emory University School of Medicine to deliver the keynote address for the 2018 Spring Banquet for their Alpha Omega Alpha chapter--a jewel in the academic crown for any medical student who achieves this distinction. When I finished I got a standing ovation. By the Emory students. By the Emory faculty attendees. And even by both the big Dean and the Dean of Admissions.

Talk about full circle, man.

And no. This isn't so much about Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. It isn't. It's more about life and how delays aren't always denials.


That standing ovation felt good. But now? Here's what I know for sure:

No matter how dope you seem, accolades and collective handclaps from others should never define you--only effort and hustle. Becoming is always better than being. The doors that close on you can and will create new paths that make your life what it is supposed to be.

Thank you, Emory University School of Medicine-- for rejecting me not once but twice.

Thank you, Meharry Medical College for building me into exactly the doctor I was supposed to be.

Thank you, CWRU for putting me on your wait list, not admitting me to your medical school in 1992 and ultimately allowing me to grow there after medical school as a resident.

But especially thank you, Mr. Langston Hughes, for making me curious way back in 3rd grade of what happens to a dream deferred. Turns out that last line is right:

It explodes.



"Becoming is better than being." - Carol Dweck


#proudofmybecoming #growthmindset #smartswithouteffortisdead #putyourmouthpiecebackin #andstartswingingagain #itwasalwaysaboutgrady

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . 


  1. With the fondness that you speak of Meharry, I always thought it was your first choice. Emory and Grady are lucky to have you.

    1. It should have been, Lisa. It really should have. I'm glad I was theirs.

  2. Thank you for this story. It made me tear up. As do many of your wonderful stories. I'm proud to know you're on this earth doing what you do. Thank you.

  3. Patience and hard work and natural ability and persistence. These things are you, dear woman! These things and so much heart.

  4. You have resilience, it's a powerful tool. I'm reading a good book right now, "Love 2.0" by Barbara Fredrickson. I think you might like it, to be honest I think you already do everything in the book. Just a guess:)

  5. I am going to share this with my three undergraduate granddaughters who are thinking about going to med school.

  6. Hello Grady Doctor!
    I wonder if any of your readers from around the world know how important Grady Hospital is to the state of Georgia?
    Nice to find you and your blog!

  7. Hi Dr. Manning,
    I really enjoy your blog posts. Would you mind sharing your email address so I can reach out to you? I wrote a paper about you, and I would love to share it with you!

  8. What is the meaning of the word "dope" as you are using it above? Thanks.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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