When you were a kid, what did you tell people that you wanted to do/be when you grow up? Many of us grow up with ideas of what we want to become in life. But, sometimes along the way, we might meet some hurdles that deter us from our initial ambition. How do you stay focused and pursue your dream(s)?
This week’s Strong Enough Girl [SEG] is an example of what it means to follow through on one’s aspirations with Faith, focus, and grit. At 27 years old, Dr. Kara Leverette (soon-to-be Williams) is well on her way to establishing her career in Medicine with MD (Doctor of Medicine) and MPH (Master of Public Health) degrees from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and an upcoming Family Medicine Residency in Florida. Kara’s steadfast journey is an inspiration to every girl who dreams of becoming a Medical Doctor. After reading her profile below, feel free to reach out to her at email@example.com to learn more about her journey to an MD/MPH and beyond. Be sure to let her know where you heard about her.
Kara’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about (describe) yourself.
I was born in Maryland but grew up in Austell, Georgia and completed my undergraduate degree at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, majoring in Neuroscience.
I knew I wanted to pursue medicine when I was young, and developed a strong interest in health disparities and preventative medicine during my years at Emory University School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, Georgia.
While obtaining a Masters of Public Health degree at Rollins, I cultivated my interest in the social determinants of health through involvement in research around teen pregnancy/STI prevention; completing an internship at Healthy Start in Daytona Beach, FL; and participating in clinically-oriented community service activities benefiting diverse populations.
I will be joining my husband, Les Williams, at Halifax Health Family Medicine Residency this summer in Daytona Beach, FL and hope to practice family medicine with a particular focus on chronic disease prevention and management.
- What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
I enjoy exercising, spending time with my family, and cooking.
- What activities are you involved with in your community?
I was fortunate to be involved with a number of organizations at Emory which linked me to the local community. These included clinical volunteering through free clinics and health screening events; political lobbying at the Georgia State Capitol to improve healthcare access for all, and clinical research focusing on STI prevention. With my upcoming move to Florida, I plan to continue engaging in my community through the healthcare organization I will work for as well as local organizations such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club.
- Who or what inspires you?
My faith inspires me—I am a Christian and my belief is that God has my life in his hands. My understanding of the Bible helps me make decisions in life and governs how I treat others, and I am thankful to be able to use the blessing of becoming a doctor with a public health background to help others throughout my medical profession and community involvement. I am also inspired by my cousin, Marjorie, who raised me after my mother died and has truly been a selfless mother-figure to me for most of my life. She continues to guide me every day and has always maintained and demonstrated her faith to me.
- Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
I am passionate about doing my part to help eradicate healthcare disparities disproportionately affecting African Americans. Particularly of interest to me is helping to reduce the lifestyle risk factors among African Americans that increase the risk of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
- What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls in your community?
Fear of failure—I have experienced it myself and seen it in exceptional and intelligent young girls over the years. Part of the challenge is that many girls do not see people who look like them succeeding.
- What advice would you like to share with girls in your community?
Seek mentors as early as possible in your life, as they can open your eyes to possibilities that you did not know were available to you. Cast your net wide, ask questions, and do not be embarrassed to do so! You never know what responses you might get. My mentors were obtained in middle school, high school, college, volunteer experiences, medical school, public school, and elsewhere and they have all taught me something different (and most of them are not in medicine). Start with “Hi, I’m Kara, and I’d love to hear your story” and see where it takes you. I promise you will learn more than you could imagine with those simple words.
- Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
First Lady Michelle Obama is truly amazing. She is using her position to truly make a difference in the childhood obesity epidemic plaguing our community through her “Let’s Move” campaign. She not only uses her knowledge and public status to make the facts about diet and exercise known, but she makes it fun for people of all ages to apply the information she has helped publicize to their own lives.
- What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
Every person has a story and a purpose, and the strength within her is key to telling that story and fulfilling that purpose. My own resilience is through my faith in God—I know I am able to do what I was created to do through the strength He provides.
- Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
“We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.” – William Osler
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kara. We applaud you and wish you well as you work to improve lives through medicine. We are proud to know you, and we celebrate you as our #SEGoftheWeek! Keep the flag flying!
*Do you know an outstanding young lady (aged 13-30 years) in your community? Recommend her to be featured. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “SEG of the Week.”*