Dr. Donna M. Christian-Christensen

If you had asked me when I was graduating from George Washington in 1970 if I would be here doing this, I would have said no. And if you had asked me in 1996, when I got elected, if I would be in a position to influence national health issues, or international health issues, I would have told you, “Oh, no, that wasn’t possible,” but today it is. And it’s really an honor and a privilege, and a responsibility, to be able to do that.

Starting coalitions is a lot of work. You end up doing all of it yourself. So I thought, well let me see, maybe I could join an organization that already exists that I could work through, and do some of the same kinds of things. And so I ended up joining the Democratic Party. And I was the first female delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands— the first female delegate from any of the territories as a matter of fact—and then the first female physician ever to serve in the Congress.

I think it’s really important for young people of color to see people of their own racial or ethnic background in positions like mine—not only on the political front, but also as a health care provider—so that they will know that yes, it’s possible for them. Because sometimes in their day-to-day environment it may not seem that way. So I think it’s really encouraging for them to see us and to interact with us.