I entered U-M in the fall of 1976 as a first-year student in the Inteflex Program, one of a small number of U.S. programs that allowed individuals to complete a bachelor’s and medical degree in six years. (The program began in 1972 and ended in 2002.) Even as I started the program, I knew I was not going to follow a traditional medical career path—but that was about all I knew about my future.
I was intellectually attracted to the scientific exploration of the human body and intrigued by the idea that physicians have front-row exposure to the lived experience of what it means to be human. My father, a physician, and my mother, a teacher and community worker, instilled in me the idea that I could do whatever I found interesting and meaningful. As a gay, African-American man, I was acutely sensitive to some of society’s major problems and wanted to tackle them. Health care for disadvantaged populations seemed to be a good a place to start.
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