Winning Essay by Andrew S. from Alabama attends University of Montevallo

An African-American that has been a huge inspiration in my life is my mother, Dr. Racquel Innis-Shelton. My mother from humble beginning has shaped herself into a brilliant doctor, mother, and overall person. Her family is from the island of Jamaica and being the first American-born of her family, she did not grow up wealthy. She was raised by her single-mother, along with her two sisters in the dangerous South-Central Los Angeles area. She grew up in a community plagued with drugs, gang violence, poverty, etc. but, she never allowed her surroundings to taint her natural drive. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a doctor and she knew she could not let naysayers and where she came from hold her back. She worked hard in school and attended the University of Southern California. She continued to work hard and she got into medical school where she met my father, Bobby Shelton II. She had her first child, my older sister, when she was still in medical school and she was pregnant with me as she was walking across the stage to graduate. Later during her residency and fellowship years she would have my two younger siblings as well. After the divorce my mother was tasked with both having a full-time career and essentially raising us four children. The courage and strength that I have seen from my mother in all of these years is amazing. She was able to work all day and come home and make dinner for us almost every night, and once we were all in bed, she continued to work into the late hours. The flexibility I have seen from her is unmatched in any other person I have ever seen. Obviously, being my mother, she has made a huge impact on my siblings and myself. She has also impacted the Birmingham community. She is one of the head researches of bone marrow cancers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was one of the people to really start the program. If it were not for her, many very sick people would not have been able to get the help that they need. And she does not just provide a service. She invests her heart into each individual patient that she helps. For her it is not just a job. She always tells me that when I am looking for a career I need to find one that lets God's light shine through me and impact those around me. Anyone that has talked to her, or been treated by her can see her light shining and giving people the love and support that they need, regardless of background, race, religion, or anything else. My mom, Dr. Racquel Innis-Shelton, is a great doctor, a great mother, a great person, and a great role model.


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