Selected Speeches

SNMA Senior Banquet

March 31, 2019
Pier 5 Baltimore

Good evening, everyone, and thank you for inviting me to this celebration. It’s such a special occasion. To Daphine and Serge, and all of the SNMA members who planned this banquet, thank you for bringing us together. To Dean Reece, thank you for continually attracting to the University of Maryland School of Medicine such incredibly talented, passionate, and dedicated medical students, students who, while focused on their own career path, also reach back to help those behind them.

To Dr. Taylor, I will say more about your friendship in a minute. For now, I simply thank you for being the physician that so many of us in this room aspire to be.

I wanted to be here tonight because I know we are all of like minds. I know we don’t believe that health is a matter only of biology and behavior. We believe that health is a matter of access, too, and that access favors the wealthy, the powerful and the privileged. We believe that one’s zip code is as much a determinant of health as one’s genetic code.

But we also believe it doesn’t have to be this way, that we can educate providers who prioritize serving the under-served, and fixing the broken systems that have consigned generations of people to sickness. We believe that health care is a fundamental right, and that health equity is our goal.

And so I know that throughout your career as a physician, you will be a blessing not only to your patients and to the friends and families who love them. You will be a blessing, as well, to this cause of ours—and to the generations of men, women, and children who we will never know, but who will be provided exceptional care because of your work and your advocacy.

Before we get down to the business of eating, I want to express my deep gratitude to your honoree this evening, Dr. Rodney Taylor. Nearly half-a-dozen years ago, I began talking about a program I wanted to start at UMB, a program that would excite city middle school students about science, and maybe put them onto a path like yours—medicine, health care, STEM.

Dr. Taylor was one of the first people in my office. He was one of the first people who offered to help. Because he knows how vital it is that we get students of color into medicine, that we open up this pipeline. He knows how vital representation is to health care access and health equity. He knows that physicians of color are good not only for our population of patients, but for the entire medical profession.

The project I talked to Dr. Taylor about would eventually become our UMB CURE Scholars Program. I know many of you are active in the program—many of you are mentors, dedicating time I’m sure it’s barely possible to sacrifice. And I’m indebted to you for that.

Dr. Taylor serves on the CURE advisory board. His operating room tours are among the most popular of the scholars’ activities. We have two of our CURE Scholars with us tonight. Princaya Sanders and Xavier Webb, could you stand? Dr. Taylor, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for scholars like Princaya and Xavier. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me.

To our graduating seniors, just as you’re now walking the path cleared by people like Dr. Taylor, Princaya and Xavier will one day walk the path you’ve cleared for them. Just as we honor those who’ve come before us and made our climb just a little bit easier, they will do the same—and honor you. What a wonderful tradition—what a wonderful community—you’ve built.

Congratulations to you all!


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