9/22/2009 - Surgeon General Nominee was once guest at JC
By Michael J. Brooks
Benjamin was the keynote speaker at that year's Alabama Women's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Benjamin, a Mobile native, has operated the Bayou LaBatre Rural Health Clinic since completing her medical degree at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and her residency at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.
Additionally she serves as associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile.
Benjamin was elected to the AMA board of trustees in 1995, making her the first physician under 40 and the first African-American women to be elected. She also holds the distinction of being the first African-American elected president of the Alabama Medical Association. She was given the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights in 1995.
"Time" magazine named her as one of the "Nation's 50 Future Leaders Age 40 and Under" and "The New York Times" called her an "angel in a white coat."
The 2003 AWHOF ceremony inducted the late Dr. Louise Branscomb, a major in the U.S. Public Health Service and the late Bess Bolden Walcott, a Red Cross official and teacher at Tuskegee Institute.
"Our society struggles with poverty, racism, domestic violence, the under-insured, the non-insured and lack of funding for education," Benjamin said. "One person caring and speaking up can make a difference as these ladies did."
Benjamin said she's trying to make a difference in her small community, and learned that a community's health is greater than writing a prescription.
She began to promote literacy classes in her area after discovering that some of her patients couldn't read their prescriptions.
"Leadership means we see what needs to be done and we do it," Benjamin said. "It also means we encourage others to get out front, too, and we don't get jealous when they're in the spotlight. Leadership means making a difference in somebody's life, and this is much more important than money."
Benjamin is now awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.