What does this new role at SBAS mean for you?
"Iíve been a member of the society for about 20 years now and Iím the 22nd president of the organization. I was the chair of the program committee for three or four years before that.
"For me, it was a tremendous honor to be recognized by people that you know and respectó to feel that they know and respect you well enough that they would want to nominate you to a position like this. Itís a tremendous honor.Ē
What does the role of the SBAS president entail?
"A lot of the role involves planning the upcoming annual meeting. I also have to give the presidential address at next yearís meeting. Iíve been thinking about it for well over a year and I still donít have a clue what Iím going to say.
"Like any academic organization, the bulk of the annual meeting is presentations of abstracts, speakers, posters, etc. But it has a pretty substantial social program and, I think because of the unique membership and the unique relationships, thereís a lot of networking that goes on too.
"Obviously, itís a small group. But itís a growing group, and itís an important one. Itís good for black academic surgeons to see that there are other people out there that are similar to them.
"For example, I can look around here and there arenít a lot of people who look like me, either as a mentor or role model or anything like that. Thatís one of the most important things about the organization, its mentorship role for younger academic surgeons. The society has a leadership institute where they have maybe 12 young faculty members, nominated by their department chairs, and they spend a whole day with leaders in academic surgery talking about how to be a leader.Ē
What led you and your wife to create the Lucy Oxley scholarship?
"One of the reasons we lose African-American students at the college is that we donít have the financial aid to be competitive with other schools. We lose two-thirds of the students we accept because we donít have financial aid. Students are graduating with anywhere from $100,000 to 200,000 in debt. So my wife and I decided that we wanted to do something about that.
"We started this about four years ago and, so far, weíve been able to raise about $82,000. We were able to give our first partial scholarship award last year.
"My wifeís goal is to raise $2 millionóhopefully thatís an attainable goal. If we can get to that goal, we can offer complete, full tuition scholarships for two students just off the interest.Ē