As we enter into the halfway mark of Black History month, it is important to recognize the achievements of African Americans, especially in the field of education. Educators and students reap the benefits of many of these great men and women who pioneered the education system. However, in order to blaze the trails, it must be available for everyone.
One key preliminary trailblazer in education for African Americans was Fanny Jackson Coppin. Born a slave, Coppin was bought by an aunt as a child, and immediately recognized the importance of education. Coppin attended Oberlin College, where she became the first African American to become a “pupil-teacher.” Coppin went on to become an assistant principal in 1865. Some of Coppin’s most notable accomplishments were establishing the Home for Girls and Young Women, as well as missionary work to South Africa.
In the 1900s, education for African Americans was even more limited, yet trailblazers like Frederick Douglas Patterson prevailed. Patterson was a star student, yet had trouble financing college, with his sister paying a sizable portion of her limited salary to fund his education. Patterson went on to study at renowned universities such as Huston-Tillotson, Iowa State, Tuskegee University, and Cornell.
Patterson went on to transform Tuskegee from an Institute of education to a University, supporting the veterinary and establishing the engineering program. However, arguably Patterson’s most impressive achievement was the dawn of the Tuskegee Airmen. Patterson commissioned the government to establish an airbase at Tuskegee, where the finely trained airmen would go on to successfully complete 1,500 missions. The success of the airmen would serve as evidence for eventual military desegregation.
Finally, you may have heard of the Brown vs. Board of education case, a landmark case that was a testament to the unconstitutionality of segregated schooling. In 1951, Linda Brown’s father Oliver Brown wanted to put her in Summer Elementary School in Topeka Kansas. However, the school’s all-white status made it so she was not allowed to attend. Oliver then sued the school district and won in 1954, overturning the larger “separate but equal” doctrine that had been in place since 1896. This ruling proved that the separate facilities, even with similarly allocated resources (which they were most often not) were not a way to promote the constitutional equality promised by our forefathers.
Education is a human right, and by that, all human beings should have equal access to it. These examples are just a small sample of the countless African Americans who have contributed to American education. Through education, they were able to make their lives and the lives of others more fruitful. We have countless African American heroes to thank this month for making a more equal and fair education system for ourselves and our posterity.
Akshay Reddy describes his journey with HOSA and its impact on his life and future career.
Have you ever thought that an extracurricular activity could change your whole view on life? After entering Walled Lake Central High School, I would have gullibly responded to that question with a negative reaction, not making a big deal about it. In spite of the fact that upon my graduation, I can gladly answer that equivalent inquiry with certainty, energy, and self-experience, and even name that activity to be HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).
I began investigating joining clubs in high school, and that is when I became acquainted with HOSA. I figured it would simply be a run of the mill club that discussed a lot of various themes in medicine, but what I discovered was actually an organization with a great many individuals whose point is one objective: setting up America's future clinical calling. At my first HOSA meeting, I was welcomed by a group of individuals who shared the same passions and interests as myself in healthcare. As a competitive athlete, my main interests in healthcare were in the sports medicine field. At the time I had no idea what I had aspired to be when I was older but I knew I wanted it to be within the sports medicine field. HOSA allowed me to partake in competitions which gave me insight into career options in the sports medicine field. I was shown basic practical medical techniques that psychical therapists, physiatrists, and orthopedic surgeons used in examining a patient. I was also given the opportunity to practice these techniques and hone these skills for future competitions that were held by HOSA. From practicing how to wrap a cast to understanding the physiology and anatomy of basic human parts, HOSA confirmed for me my passion in the sports medicine field. I knew then that at that moment I wanted to become a physician, but more specifically an orthopedic surgeon. As an athlete who was recruited for his sport, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to compete in college as a student-athlete and pre-med student due to the time and commitment required by both, At certain times, it looked like I had no option but my HOSA team’s confidence in me never wavered. They helped me get in contact with members of the HOSA committee who informed me of a program by Nova Southeastern which offered guaranteed admission to the med school pending minimal requirements. These requirements compared to what the average med school applicant applied with were much easier, so as one could imagine the competition to get into this program was top-notch. I knew this program was the only way that I could continue both my dreams of becoming a physician and student-athlete. With the help of HOSA, I was able to craft an application that demonstrated my purpose for combining both aspects of these important things in my life.
Fast forward 9 months later, and here I am an incoming freshman to that amazing direct-med program at Nova Southeastern where I will also be a student-athlete. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had at HOSA, from finding my dream career and making it a possibility with my other passion through the help of some of the most amazing, aspiring medical professionals I have ever met.
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