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Healthcare Executive James Burroughs: Black & Brown Children Need Role Models To Build Confidence, Know They Can Succeed In STEM Careers
NEWS RELEASE PROVIDED BY STEM NOLA
NEW ORLEANS, La – On the new episode of Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie, James Burroughs, a top executive at the Children’s Minnesota healthcare system, asserts that Black & Brown children must have role models in STEM professions to build the confidence that they can also succeed in those careers. But, too often, they don’t exist.
Burroughs, a senior vice president at one of the nation’s largest freestanding pediatric health systems, cites the major STEM professions at their facilities - doctor, nurse, medical assistant, certified surgical assistant, radiologist, technician, and laboratory technician. “I see nobody looks like me,” he maintains, adding that the lack of people of color can send the wrong message to young minorities, that these jobs are not for them.
Young people, he says, may think “maybe this is not for me, but I see everybody in the basketball court, they look like me, okay. I need to go play basketball. All my boys are playing football. Let me go play football. And not saying either of those things are wrong. But if that's the only thing I think I can be that determines sometimes my trajectory of what I think I can be.”
Further, Burroughs talks about the positive images that can be portrayed with the right scenarios and narratives. He extols Dr. Mackie, his classmate at Morehouse College, for creating STEM NOLA, the rapidly growing program that excels at giving K-12 children from under-resourced communities hands-on experience in STEM fields.
“The things that you do with your STEM Saturdays, the young people in white coats, that innovation, that creative knowledge create solutions for the things in the future, the problems of the future, is what we need,” Burroughs says.
“One of the things that I love (is) seeing the young kids in white coats. Once you put on that white coat, and I'm sure you've seen it, that confidence goes up. That level of ‘I could do anything goes up’ and that is what I love to see in our young people. So, when they do decide to get into medicine, you know, they've been wearing a white coat since they've been five years old. So, they get their white coat when they graduate medical school, it's where they're supposed to be. It's not a new thing to them. It's where they were supposed to be. And you have put them in a place to say, ‘okay, this is my rightful place. I need to own it.’”
Dr. Mackie agreed, saying that a major goal of his programs is “to bridge that gap” in the lack of representation of healthcare workers.
“Recently we had a lung and respiratory day where we had over 200 kids in white lab coats, and we had upward of 50 healthcare professionals,” Mackie says. “We had a couple of cardiothoracic surgeons. We had surgery residents. We had Black and Brown students from LSU and Tulane medical schools. We had pre-medical students from Tulane. But to see these families and to see these kids respond to the fact that they were in a safe place in a collaborative environment with healthcare workers really created a mindset that ‘I can be this too.’ We are trying to bring together these entities and these stakeholders so they can develop this relationship so that our kids can dream.”
Enjoy the entire enlightening conversation by clicking HERE.
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