Surgery Resident Says "Thinking Big" Is Life Motto
Published April 2007
First-year surgery resident Callisia Clarke, MD, has known since she was 8 that she wanted to be a doctor. That's the type of focus and motivation this 25-year-old African-American woman has always had in her life.
And it's obvious to anyone who meets Clarke that she is woman with deep-seated values and a real passion for her chosen profession.
"I think you need to find a niche and do well at it to make a difference in someone's life," she says. "My parents always encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be, and for as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a doctor."
In March, Clarke was honored by Applause Magazine with a 2007 Leader of the Future Award. The program recognizes 10 people under age 30 who are positively influencing the African-American community by serving as outstanding role models and demonstrating leadership through their work and community service.
Clarke definitely fits the bill. During her medical training, she served as an ambassador for the UC College of Medicine by participating in local, regional and national minority recruitment activities and tutoring undergraduate medical students. Clarke also served as an AIDS counselor at University Hospital, UC's primary teaching hospital, and volunteered at health fairs around the city.
Last fall, she traveled with UC trauma surgeon Kenneth Davis, MD, to Tanzania with the Village Life Outreach Project as part of a philanthropic mission to provide critical medical care and education to impoverished people in Africa.
"I was taught from a very young age that it's important to give back to those who are less fortunate than I, so community service has been a part of my life, and always will be," says Clarke.
"Giving back is something my parents have always selflessly done, and when I was a child they were constantly involved in some community project that I was also expected to participate in," she explains. "That's a quality I admire in them and want to have in my own life."
As an aspiring surgeon-scientist, Clarke says the hard work and long hours she's logged practicing her craft are well worth it. Now she's looking forward to refining her skills further through her residency at University Hospital.
Clarke hopes to conduct research on medical problems that specifically affect African-Americans.
She says she hasn't yet decided on a surgical specialty, but she's leaning toward transplantation or surgical oncology.
Everything in Clarke's life is driven by the motto "Think Big," an acronym for the qualities she says every person can use to stay grounded in both their professional and personal lives: Talent, Hope and honesty, Insight and intelligence, being Nice to others, Knowledge, Books, In-depth learning and God.
"I have the best job in the world because I can still come in to work everyday and smile," says Clarke. "I have friends who've taken an easier course who can't say the same."