What was my biggest obstacle?
Getting into medical school. This was because it was political, I lacked financial support, and my family did not really comprehend what I was trying to achieve. I applied for every grant/scholarship that I could find. Because of a congenital problem with one of my eyes vocational rehabilitation paid for a portion of my tuition. Until I graduated from medical school I could not convince my father that I was NOT attending nurses' training!
How do I make a difference?
Overcoming obstacles to become a doctor has equipped me to encourage others who face similar barriers. I have had the opportunity to serve on medical school admission boards and advocate for minority students. Now as a physician executive I can model strong leadership skills for minority females.
Who was my mentor?
In childhood, my mentor was a friend's grandmother who took an interest in my spiritual well-being and saw to it that I was rooted in biblical principles.
In high school, my mentor was a biology teacher who understood the struggles I faced each day at home, but always encouraged me to push a little harder and to learn a little more.
During surgery residency, my mentor was a young surgery faculty member who taught me how to deal with "medical politics" without compromising my values.
How has my career evolved over time?
I started as a radiologic technologist then surgical technician, physician, and then general medical officer in the Indian Health Service. After that, I completed a general surgery residency and served as a staff surgeon and clinical director for ten years. For the past nine years I have served as physician executive in the Indian Health Service.