For Nelson Adams III, M.D. ’78, The Meharry Experience "Epitomizes Opportunity"
According to Nelson Adams III, M.D. ’78, the Meharry experience holds a uniquely special place in his mind and heart. "I've got very fond memories, and I've got mixed memories, truth be told—med school is tough for the smartest...and I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer," he said with a smile.
"When I graduated from undergraduate school, many of my friends graduated with honors—they were Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude, and Cum Laude, and I graduated Thank You Laude," he said.
Adams, a Miami, Florida OB-GYN, is a member of Meharry's Board of Trustees. He is also a member of The Guardians of Our Legacy—Meharry alumni who've given over $100,000 in support of the institution.
Wanting to be a doctor since the second grade, Adams said he found the path to being a physician challenging. "Meharry can take a diamond in the rough and really buff it up and make it sparkle...It's been quite a metamorphosis—I shine a little bit, at least occasionally," he said modestly.
Adams speaks proudly of his alma mater and its history of opportunity for those who aspire to be doctors but see barriers between themselves and the dream. According to Adams, Meharry represents "all that epitomizes opportunity" for many.
"Meharry has historically taken students who, for a variety of reasons, have not had the same test scores as students that have gone to other schools, who have not had the same opportunities, often, who have not had the same economic support systems and social support systems that others have had," he said. "Yet, through a four year process of education and nurturing, they have been able to produce some of the finest physicians, dentists, and researchers in America."
Meharry affords all manner of experiences to its students in its preparation for professional life, Adams said, "some good, some not so good, and some downright ugly—but that's life. Meharry...keeps it real and prepares you for real life experiences...Meharry teaches you...how to cope and be strong."
But, he remembers, as a student, the example set before him in serving others was remarkable. "It's often said that I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one, and at Meharry we saw sermons everyday.
Meharry is especially valuable in training physicians to give back, to return to communities where they are needed and to serve the underserved—"the last, the lost, the least," Adams said.
"Meharry...allowed me to grow and to be nurtured, and to incorporate into my life its motto, 'Worship of God Through Service to Mankind.'"
Adams said he takes the opportunity when he can to remind his fellow alumni of the legacy of Meharry in the lives of themselves, their families, and their communities. "Had it not been for Meharry, where would we be?" he said. "I remind them from whence we've come because sometimes it's forgotten...It's given us great opportunity."