Remember where you came from

Without a doubt I wanted to share about my foundation. But it took some courage to wrap my mind around writing a vulnerable post. So lets get on with it...


There are 4 individuals who I hold dear in my heart as mentors in the the early stages of my career: Dr. Cook, Dr. Archer, Dr. Fraser, and Dr. Hall. This post isn’t about travel but it speaks to the person who helped lay the foundation and really helped me get to where I am today.

Dr. Hall was everything to me. I met him the summer of 2007 at the University of Iowa when I participated in a summer research program for minority students. Because of my work with him, I was able to obtain the tools necessary to be a competitive applicant for graduate school. Dr. Hall took care of me for two summers. He not only guided me in being a great researcher; he showed me how to be an amazing mentor, how to give back to others, and to explore ideas-especially those different than my own.

I remember during my second summer in 2008 how he had myself and a few others over for a bbq and he made sure there was vegetarian food for me to eat. He always went out of his way to make sure I knew I was valued. He always told me how proud he was of me. He did everything he could to convince me to go into social work like him. And despite my resistance, he supported me. He gave me financial tips, career tips, and even offered me housing when I was moving to his city. He was everything to me. And today (September 5th), after sending him a text asking him how he was doing, I got the following:

Hi, this is ____, Jims daughter. My dad passed away in his sleep on August 20.

I stared at that text for a long time. Speechless. Maybe if I had reached out sooner I would have been able to talk to him one more time. He was one of the best men I’ve ever known. His heart. His passion. If I can be half the mentor he was to me…it’s like the memories of him are already fading. Just over a decade ago he came into my life. And now, without warning, he was snatched away. It’s like living in a dream. Maybe his daughter way lying. People lie right? But google doesn’t. An obituary doesn’t. And so alas, I’m here. Thankful for the man that highly influenced my career trajectory. The man who wrote letters of recommendations for me at the beginning and made sure mountains were moved for me to get a prestigious post-doc fellowship. He would always say that I gave him too much credit. That I did the work. But he helped me see my potential. He believed in my abilities. He believed in me.

This one is for you Dr. Hall. Rest In Peace.

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