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How Rural Schools Steered a Future Doctor Toward the Fight for Equitable Healthcare
You really emphasize how proud you are to have taught in the Mississippi Delta. You grew up in a rural town, so was the transition a little easier than most, as far as relating to your students and the community?
I think people oftentimes, myself included, assume that all rural environments are created equally. I’m Black and grew up in rural North Carolina, so I thought that automatically I’d have a rapport with my students, but the two states are hardly the same. Mississippi is a place that, unfortunately, many parts of the country have forgotten. It’s a place with so much incredible potential, talent, and promise, but it’s also a place that doesn’t enter people’s frame of reference in terms of a place where you can grow and advance your career.
That has an impact on our schools. A lot of our rural students get to and through college, but they don’t necessarily go back to their hometowns to teach. So Teach For America, in a sense, served as an infusion of really committed, passionate people on the ground. As a corps member, you’re learning the issues they’re facing—because many of them don’t have the luxury of just leaving, because things aren’t going the way they want them to go, or because they don't have a clear vision for their future.