Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Rush University Med School Awards Ceremony

(They told me 90 seconds. Yikes!)

Good evening everyone. It is my distinct pleasure to be here to award the Daniel Welsh MD Memorial Scholarship. Quickly, I’d like to share a bit about the man behind the award’s name. Dan and I grew up together; we went to grade school, high school, and college together. Dan possessed an effortless charm and indomitable spirit. Energy permeated the room when he walked through the door. You could feel it. You see, Dan lived every moment with incomparable intensity and integrity. Whatever experience life was offering him, he jumped in full throttle. In fact, he was quite exhausting to be around! Pleasantly exhausting, but exhausting nonetheless. And it was this passion for life that drove Dan to become the best doctor he could be. To have his very purpose be rooted in authentic personal relationships and to take care of those around him. That may sound cliché, but I have stories to support it (as does Mrs. Welsh who is here tonight) and never tire of telling them. Just ask my daughters and students.

I’ve had the privilege to read through today’s award recipient’s application. It is so heartwarming for me to see such similarities in his words and Dan’s legacy. “Beyond the sophisticated craft and intellectual stimulation, the most meaningful aspects of General Surgery are the patients I have had the privilege to serve...I have tried to be a source of support to our patients...and to make their hospitalization as comfortable as possible.”

To this year’s recipient, when you look at this plaque, may it help fuel you with “Dan-like energy” and may it consistently remind you of your own passions to “provide meaningful and definitive care to patients” and “to work with compassion and empathy every day.”

On behalf of the Welsh family, my sincerest congratulations to Dr. Raghav Chandra.

Dr. Daniel Welsh

Saturday, January 20, 2018

"Hey All You White People..." Women's March St. Louis 2018

Last January, I trekked to DC on a bus with one of my daughters and with 100+ other women from my community. We all bonded. We shared stories of #Laughter and #Love and #Truths and #MeToo and so much more. And I learned so much. I postedMy daughter posted. And we all vowed to stand in solidarity. To do our part. Because #Times Up. #NoMore.

This year, I marched in St. Louis. And I learned so much more. In listening to some extraordinary women of color speak and perform, to hear them share their truth, I was moved and awed and touched. Not only are they in it, I was reminded just how deeply they've BEEN IN IT. For a very long time.

And then a white woman took the stage. Reverend Ranita Lamkin. A preacher from Cape Girardeau's St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church

And she let us white people have it. Appropriately so.

"I'm gonna talk to the white people for a minute, if that's okay." She paused. And then she let out a penetrating laugh. It was part witch, part hyena, and part big sister. You know, the big sister that you simply can't lie to? Hide from? She's gonna use it as leverage. And you never win. That kind of laugh. (Of course this is not a transcript, but it's close.)

"Hey all you white people taking selfies with Black people just so you can post it on Facebook to show you were a part of something. You're not allowed to do that. You can't do that! That's not right. Shame on you. Stop it."

"Hey all you white people. Going to church and hoping and marching and praying? Thhpptpt" She let out raspberry sounds. A few times. "That ain't enough! Prayin' ain't gonna change policy. Open doors. Prevent injury. Provide food, clothing, shelter, health care. Prayin' ain't enough."

"Hey all you white people. I know. There are laws. And you like to follow the rules. But when the rules are wrong, when people are struggling, when people are dying, you can't keep wondering about when the rules are gonna change. CHANGE THEM! Stop following the rules and push back on the rules. Make things right."

"Hey all you white people. If you're not out here when the confrontations surface, when the tear gas erupts...if you're not out here to protest police brutality arm in arm with all your brothers and sisters, to feel the pain of mace in your face as you protect our youth, then your presence here today is vanity." And she smiled at the women of color, the other speakers, sitting around her. And looked back at us, as if to say, "These women have been doing this for a very long time. For generations. Where have you been? What are you doing? Besides marching?"

"Hey all you white people, if this march is all you're doing, that's being a sloppy human being. Use your position, your skin color, your privilege to make things right. Stop being a sloppy human being."

The overall message of the morning was positive. We are better together. We are effective united. We must #speakourtruth. And we women must also adopt an unapologetic attitude. #NoMore.

This moment spoke to me. My honest reflection on what I've done with my time during the past year is ongoing. As for the upcoming months, my presence will be more than last year's and deeper than the intellectual space I find comfortable. 

March. Act. Vote. #WomensMarch2018

PS It wasn't lost on me that the one year anniversary of the first march also corresponded to a government shut down. And who the greatest victims of that shutdown will be. We have MUCH work to do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Great American Eclipse, 2017...

...What's My Take?
Here's what I'm sharing with my department. Wanted to share with you, too. Would love to hear about your experience, as well.

I must admit, I was way more excited than I thought I'd be. Being outside the band of totality, I was surprisingly moved. When I finally let go of all the anticipation and allowed myself to absorb the experience, I couldn't help but dance and stare and hug and sing...and wonder...

After a while, serenity set in and my amazement amplified. A calculated shadow gently blanketed our country, one location at a time, carefree and careless of the ongoings of our sometimes empathetic and sometimes shameful behavior, highlighting the magnificence and beauty of the universe. And I was part of it. I was in that shadow. There's a reason why this celestial event is referenced repeatedly over the centuries in history, in science, in literature, in the arts. I believe insightful authors and artists knew that future generations would experience the same event, but with new context. There's faith, even desperation in that wisdom. What do you hope will be cradled in the next eclipse's shadow? And how will you contribute to that vision?

In a way, this is what we've chosen to do for a living. We hope that our students will be able to navigate their life experiences with a deeper understanding of their surroundings. And of themselves. And contribute to their world in a way that makes it better than the way they found it. We use our classrooms as an opportunity to practice and investigate those possibilities. That may seem far-fetched, exaggerated, but I truly believe each teacher does that, in big and small ways, every day. For that, I'm grateful, and in awe. The Great American Eclipse 2017 is committed to my memory, and hopefully yours. Here's hoping the next shadow captures a greater version of ourselves—individually and societally—than who we modeled this time around.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh Such Incredible Women!

This post will not be lengthy, much to your relief. This is because I haven't yet determined how best to share the impactful movie theater experiences I've had over the last two weeks.

Suffice it to say, I highly recommend Lion, Hidden Figures, and I Am Not Your Negro. These are "must see" shows.

There is a great deal to learn from these movies. They are potentially life changing. And what I found potent were the two inescapable themes:

1. Women are spectacularly strong.
2. A sense of belonging shapes our identity, and vice versa.

There is a universal need to feel accepted, to have family, to know your history and how that shapes your current sense of belonging. Understanding the connection of where you came from gives you the courage and wherewithal to pursue the trajectory of where you're meant to go. And these four women—Brierly's Moms, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Counts—in the midst of heartache and adversity, exemplified living in a manner indicative of pure love, unfettered determination, and inexplicable beauty all stemming from the foundation of believing in what their life's journey was meant to be. 

Like so many other women I look up to, I found these stories inspiring. It's a gift that there are these real life examples being shared in the theater for our young women to see. And it's about time. #StillShePersisted