Friday, April 23, 2010

Just returned from my first cruise - absolutely planning for others. We flew to South Florida on Friday, went aboard Carnival Ship "Liberty" Saturday afternoon and got underway a few minutes after 4 pm.

And after a day at sea we pulled into Cozemel, Mexico.

Next stop Grand Cayman Island.

We love Ocho Rios, Jamaica

And back to Miami.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Notre Dame's First Black Valedictorian

In the 161 years the University of Notre Dame has been awarding degrees, never had there been a Black valedictorian. Until this year. Katie Washington, a biological sciences major from Gary, Indiana, has been named valedictorian of the 2010 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement exercises May 16 in Notre Dame stadium.

Ms. Washington, who earned a 4.0 grade point average, and has never brought home anything less than an A throughout her school career, has a minor in Catholic Social Teaching. She has conducted research on lung cancer and performed genetic studies for Global Health on the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever. She is the co-author of a research paper with David Severson, professor of biological sciences.

She is well-rounded and has polished her leadership skills through research and volunteer activities. She practically grew up in her father's doctor's office in Gary. Ms. Washington other activities includes directing the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, being a mentor/tutor for the Sister-to-Sister program at South Bend’s Washington High School, and serves as the student coordinator of the Center for Social Concerns’ “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.” She graduated from Gary’s West Side High School and was valedictorian in 2006.

Upon graduation, Katie plans to continue her studies at Johns Hopkins University through a joint M.D./Ph.D program there and follow in her parents and siblings’ footsteps into medicine. Dad William is a doctor and mom, Jean is a nurse, brother Mark is completing his residency at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and sister Terry is a nurse. Another brother, Navy veteran Vincent, works for British Petroleum. (So the Huxtables do exist). Clearly she was focused on her mission in life and she has some good adult guidance in her life. She comes from a family of achievers. I would expect a child from a family of educated middle class folks to excel, regardless of race. Education was part of her home culture. Why bring this up? Because it shows how home culture influences our achievements. This is the story that we don’t normally see. This is not an unusual thing for Black Americans. it does happen all over the U.S. We, as a community, have other stories like Katie’s that need to be on BET, and TV One, etc..

Although she is not 100 percent sure of what kind of doctor she wants to be, she plans to train as a physician scientist with the intention of treating patients with disease. You have to serious grey matter to get into John Hopkins Medical Research Scientist program (that's what the MD/PhD program is called). This is serious sacrifice - over $300K in debt (even with grants) and in school until your late 30's. Not having a real income until around age 40, and be forced into a specialty or into research, more likely the former, since you'd be way overqualified and too far in debt to work as a primary care physician. There is only one word for this kind of person DRIVEN.

Katie demonstrates that if one is given an equal opportunity and makes the requisite sacrifices; great achievement and success will follow. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity".