Voorhees College concluded the Black History Month Blue Table Talk speaker series with messages from public health professionals Dr. Jayne Morgan, cardiologist and clinical director, and Dr. Mike F. Weaver, researcher and evaluator.
Morgan discussed her journey toward becoming a cardiologist. She said at first she envisioned she would only deal with patients, but as time went on she envisioned something else that led her toward more of the research side of medicine. “There are multiple ways to leverage your medical degrees from practicing medicine to administration.”
She said she received a call from a pharmaceutical company looking for a cardiologist to lead their phase one trials. “When I look back, I had no idea what the job was asking for, but I came in to oversee the safety of the compounds given to patients. I was not sure of my path even then, so I still practiced medicine on the side.”
After juggling her research practice and her medical practice, Morgan said she decided to go full-time into what medical professionals call the industry. “I was entrenched in the cardio renal program, that focuses on heart and kidney health, but then I transitioned to researching and working with medical devices, I did not know about these particular devices, but I was able to use my cardiology background to learn how to utilize these devices.
She said her medical background gave her additional opportunities to lead the COVID-19 taskforce at Piedmont Hospital. “I developed a series to inform patients, answer questions, and advise them about the COVID-19 vaccine. I want to address the concerns of our culture and healthcare in regards to the pandemic.”
Morgan said Voorhees students should continue exploring career paths while they are in school, and as they develop their expertise, they can always rely back on it while accepting new challenges. “School is the time for you to focus on yourselves, character, competency, and deliverables,” Morgan said. “You have an opportunity like I did as an HBCU graduate of Spelman College where people understand you and are there to mentor you to advance and come into your own.”
She concluded with, “I no longer see patients not because I did not like to but because another opportunity presented itself, and I decided to explore it. If something compels you, do not be afraid to step into it even if it is not all bright and clear. You should become comfortable sometimes working in a fog.”
Weaver shared his passion for public health and community service with the Voorhees family. He began acknowledging his South Carolina roots being a native of Aiken. “I am from South Carolina where the soil is black and three-foot-deep, where anything can grow out of it, not just agriculture but people. So, students, I challenge you to get your education and achieve your greatness.”
He said to the students that they could receive an excellent education led by many great leaders at Voorhees College, located in South Carolina, where the deep black soil resides. “Public health is what I know and what I do. We must ask ourselves why are there so many different conversations on the COVID-19 vaccinations,” Weaver said. “I am an advocate of the vaccine because it does the Tuskegee experiment participants a disservice for us to have fear about vaccines because it was the failure of the U.S. public health service.”
Weaver continued saying the participants already had syphilis and were denied treatment, and at the time, medicine in its early days was considered “quackery.” “Unfortunately, some of those scientists from back then who trained those who came after them believe some lives were expendable. In 2021, I understand the hesitation blacks have about the vaccine, but as Dr. Morgan said, receive the information from someone you trust who understands the history of medicine and public health.”
He said amid tribulation and trouble, South Carolinians overcome. “I encourage students to get the vaccine but get your information again from a trusted source. I have a passion for helping young people, and we volunteer, do college campuses, and community service.”
Weaver concluded with, “Being from Aiken, I had never visited the University of South Carolina, but I was able to take a tour. After graduating from Morehouse, I decided to attend USC and come back home because of the impact of the tour I took in high school. I did what worked for me and pray you students do the same.”
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