At one time, they were little girls with little-girl dreams. When somebody would ask Sara Stigler, Nicolette Barbour or Ashley Sutherland what they wanted to be when they grew up, each would say they wanted to be a doctor.
Only later would they realize how difficult that would be. Only when they became young women did they understand that African-Americans are significantly under-represented at American medical schools.
So they would turn to each other. They would push and challenge and encourage one another. They would study together and dream together and work together.
Friday morning, Stigler, Barbour and Sutherland walked across the stage and received their white coats as first-year medical students at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.
In many ways this is the start of a journey. They will study medicine for the next four years, then they will have residencies that last three to eight more. But that begins Monday. On Friday, they celebrated the path they have traveled. They are now part of the class of 2017.
Less than 7 percent of all U.S. medical school students were African-American last year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The 2010 Census shows that 14 percent of Americans identify as black or African-American.
Eventually, they went and spoke to admissions at the UC medical school. Sutherland was at the base, so she appeared in uniform via Barbour’s iPad. They had good test scores and degrees and work experience. Still, 4,800 people applied to fill 173 spots. Stigler confesses to crying some nights when she thought about it.
The plan, initially, was just for all three to get into medical school. Eventually, they realized they wanted to keep studying together, and then UC accepted them all.
Monday, they start classes. Stigler said they will keep working together because it works, and because now they almost feel like sisters.
“It’s possible we could have done this alone,” Stigler said.
“But I am not sure. Right now, I can’t even imagine not doing this with them.” ■
I know two of these phenomenal young women and this is MY alma mater!! Black women united are impossible to defeat …