Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” —Mahatma Gandhi

The Osteopathic family has long been inclusive of individuals who wanted to study medicine, beginning in 1892 when A.T. Still welcomed women to the first class at the American School of Osteopathy.

The Osteopathic profession stands out among the medical professions as having continued to embrace all ethnicities and walks of life for over 100 years; fighting discrimination, sharing words of encouragement, and providing financial assistance, if and when possible. Today, as the profession makes concerted efforts to attract and retain more diverse students, we recognize the rate of change continues to be slow; we know we have more to do.

Now, more than ever, we have a treasure-trove of national leaders, true role models, who are inspiring the next generation of DOs, including Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, the first African American woman to become a medical school dean, and Dr. William G. Anderson, who spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement in Southwest Georgia to combat the inequalities of segregation. Dr. Anderson worked closely with Martin Luther King, who would simply ask life’s most persistent and urgent question, “What are you doing for others?”

Research shows that many minorities, while interested in the field, still feel medical school is out of reach, due to the lack of scholarships or supplemental grants. So, today we will continue to address Dr. King’s question and work together to achieve our collective goal of advancing inclusion and diversity—across the country, and throughout the world.

At the 2019 Honors Gala, the Heatherington Foundation made a $1 million gift to the AOF to support the AOF William G. Anderson, DO, Minority Scholarship and access to medical education for minority medical students.

While we have made great strides within our profession to build a pipeline for persons of color,we will not slow down; we will strengthen our resolve to ensure unity in diversity. The future of the Osteopathic profession is strong and vibrant; but we know the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. We hope you take that step with us today, on our quest for inclusion, equality, and diversity within the profession.

Raise Your Paddle to directly support the AOF’s Minority Scholarship Program that will help recognize, support, and empower persons of color who are making great strides toward achieving their Osteopathic medical degree.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.” — Maya Angelou