Our Wellesley motto highlights the importance of connecting with the world beyond ourselves.  Each of us travels in our own bubble of family, friends, work, and community.  We often do not know that just across town, there are people who are just as kind, funny, generous, hard-working, and smart as we are, but who live in very different circumstances.  Whether our bubbles are large or small, whether they are made of thick plexi-glass or of ephemeral soap, we need to burst through our bubbles to experience and cherish our common humanity.

My work life has taught me to be courageous.  Being courageous includes being unafraid of controversy and embracing challenge.  When you are courageous, you honor your real self and learn your full power.  You don't have to follow anybody else's path. In fact, it is your job to forge your own path. Sometimes it takes 10 or 15 years to distill your passions, to understand them.  But that's the goal.  The goal is not to do somebody else's job or to take a job, but to create a role for yourself.  Each person has their own gifts, and the main challenge is to recognize how to share your gifts.  Indeed, what you'll be doing 20 years from now may not even exist yet, because it may take you to create it.

My work life has also taught me to be a citizen.  Being a citizen includes caring about the whole, engaging, stepping up, staying “woke”, and especially paying attention to “the absence of.”  For example, whenever you find yourself at a decision-making table, it is crucial that you look around and ask, "Who is not here who has an interest in this proceeding?"  And then it's not sufficient to simply represent their interests; you also need to work to make a place for them at the table.

Non ministrari, sed ministrare.  Be fearless, be passionate, be true to your gifts, and connect to the larger world.  Go forth and matter!


Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, Ph. D., is a senior fellow at Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine. She's Immediate Past President of the American Public Health Association.