Blake Madison Coleman
When I was a little girl, my favorite place to be was in a hospital. I would walk in
with the brightest smile on my face, no matter how sick or how hurt I was. I would bring
my own stethoscope for the doctors to use, I always asked to hear my own heartbeat and
review my own scans and I always took home souvenirs to add to my extensive collection
of medical supplies. As a young girl, I knew exactly who I was and who I would grow to
be someday. I insisted that my family refer to me as Dr. Coleman as I marched around
tripping over my oversized white lab coat with my name cleanly stenciled above the upper
left pocket. My most valued possessions could be found in a clear plastic bin labeled “Dr.
Coleman’s Dr’s Kit”. This kit consisted of numerous stethoscopes, tourniquets, medical
tape, encyclopedias (which were memorized cover to cover), and every souvenir I had ever
collected from my many trips to the doctor’s office.
My favorite part of the visits was when they drew my blood. I would watch in wonder as
the thick, reddish-black blood slowly filled the tube. I would inhale deeply trying to savor
the aroma of the rubber from the tourniquet mixing with the piercing fragrance of the
rubbing alcohol. I observed with excitement as the gleaming silver needle entered my skin.
I felt more comfortable sitting on a stiff bed in a sterile room, than I felt anywhere else in
When I was eleven, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was devastated, but
not because of this life-threatening condition. I was devastated because my diagnosis
tainted the perfect relationship I had created with medicine. Suddenly, I was the patient.
The gleaming silver needles used to deliver my insulin no longer filled me with wonder,
but with dread and pain. My once favorite smell of rubbing alcohol stung my nose and
burned my skin. In my house, where I was once regarded as the resident physician, I
became the one who needed checking up on.
This shift in identity was jarring for my overall wellbeing. I distanced myself from
my condition, refusing to acknowledge its grave implications over my life. As my health
worsened, so did my academic performance in school, which further contributed to my loss
of identity. I convinced myself that I was not intelligent or capable enough to become a
doctor. For so long I had been steadfast in myself and in my life’s calling to be a doctor.
Surrendering my intentness caused me to lose sight of my purpose. The once exceptional
girl who received all A’s in school, spent hours performing surgery on her stuffed animals
and memorizing the various functions of the human body had vanished. The girl who
believed with everything inside her, that she was born for greatness, disappeared. This
change was noticeable to everyone around me, so much so that one morning on the way to
school, my mother asked, in a concerned manner, “Blake, who are you?” I could not answer
My inability to answer her question prompted an invigorating journey of self-discovery. I
have since rediscovered my love of medicine, by exploring issues related to public and global
health as well as healthcare access and inequity. I have found new and innovating ways to combine
my love of medicine, with my own identity as an African American, delving deep into issues of
race inequality within the healthcare field. I can promise that no matter what path I embark on
within healthcare, I will make a difference in the lives of many. You will one day know me as Dr.
Coleman, the healthcare pioneer who was not born to play the game but was born to change it.