Man Went from Security Officer to Medical Student at Same Hospital
During his shifts as a security officer, Russell Ledet would study organic chemistry notecards in his downtime and ask doctors to shadow them.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A man who worked as a security officer at a Baton Rouge medical center for nearly five years has returned to the facility as a medical student.
Russell Ledet, 34, grew up poor in Lake Charles, La., with his sister and single mother. Due to his circumstances, Ledet didn’t think going to college was in the cards for him, reports the BBC.
“When it came down to the idea of college, it was never an option,” he said. “It was like only rich people do that. The only thing I knew how to do to get out of the neighborhood I was in was to go to the military.”
As his “way out,” Ledet joined the Navy. After several tours overseas, he left the Navy to settle down with his wife and start a family. In 2009, the couple moved to Baton Rouge and he enrolled at Southern University and A&M College.
Although he received a full scholarship, Ledet still had to work full time to support his family, so he started working security at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. He attended classes during the day and worked from late afternoon to midnight.
During his shifts, Ledet would study organic chemistry notecards in his downtime and ask doctors to shadow them, according to CNN.
Ledet and his wife soon welcomed their first child, motivating him even more to finish his degree. He went on to earn a PhD in molecular oncology at New York University. In Feb. 2018, the couple welcomed their second child on the same day he got word that he had been accepted to Tulane University School of Medicine with a full scholarship.
In July, Ledet returned to Baton Rouge General Medical Center as a medical student, working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. After medical school, Ledet wants to work in pediatrics and psychiatry to help increase access to mental health care in poor communities.
“Coming from where I come from, nobody tells you that you can do things in the world, you can make an impact,” he told the BBC. “If nobody tells you, you don’t know. But now that I know I can tell the kids.”
Back in 2019, Ledet also made headlines for organizing a photo of 15 Black medical students in front of the former slave quarters at the Whitney Plantation slavery museum. After the photo went viral, Ledet co-founded 15 White Coats, a company whose mission is to raise money for minority medical students.
“Our big plans are to start a high school in New Orleans,” he said. “And then we want to find a big donor to pay for an entire incoming class of medical students around the country that are from marginalized communities.”
Ledet is currently working on his MD and MBA at Tulane and is expected to graduate in May 2022.
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