Fun, passionate, and dynamic advocate for individuals with special needs
Here's My Story
In second grade, I struggled to read. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read, I just wasn’t “hooked on phonics.” I couldn’t pronounce many of the basic words that my peers could. I also didn’t understand a single thing that I read. I was self-conscious about reading out loud because I was afraid that everyone would learn my secret. I asked for help, but because I worked hard outside of school, my grades did not reflect that I needed it. So, I suffered in silence and figured out how to compensate.
I followed my mother’s mantra: “fake it ‘til you make it.” Through high school, the United States Military Academy and even through my admission into medical school, I faked it until I made it. But then it happened. My first year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine I received my first “F”. It wasn’t just one “F”; I got several and by the end of the year I failed Anatomy and Histology. I thought that was the end of the dream that I had shared with my father to one day become a doctor. Little did I know that was just the beginning of my journey towards my passion and my purpose.
Because my medical school made a commitment to understand why I was struggling, the faculty and staff at Albert Einstein made it possible for me to decelerate the program so that I could attain my medical degree. After graduation, I completed a Pediatric Residency in Detroit before returning to the Army to serve my country as a Pediatrician. It was through the Army that I realized there was an entire population of dependents who were just like me. These individuals struggled with learning issues that threatened to prevent them from reaching their fullest potential. I realized that instead of being just another pediatrician, I needed to be an advocate for these individuals like my medical school had been for me. I switched gears and embarked on a personal mission to learn as much as possible about Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism and mood disorders. I recognized that the way the medical system worked with respect to these special needs populations was ineffective and insufficient. Thus, I set out to create a system that made sense and streamlined the process of evaluation and treatment. I developed a multi-disciplinary approach which bridged the gap between medical, behavioral health and cognitive-educational assessments. In a matter of months, I had opened my own private medical practice, to help identify, treat and encourage children and adults to overcome their obstacles and reach their potential.
After 6 years of working successfully with children and their families to support their dreams and encourage their potential, it has become apparent that the work is far from done, my work is far from over. It is clear, now more than ever, that education is the key to helping children and adults understand that their struggles should not go unheard or unaddressed. Moreover, education is key to help them understand that these are real issues with real solutions. As a result, a year ago I closed my clinic, and now I am refocusing my efforts. My goal is to work directly with parents, school officials and medical providers to help them understand their roles as identifiers of and support systems for children who are struggling with learning, attention, mood, behavior and social issues. I offer health consultations to direct parents where to start in their assessment journey, provide care coordination once a diagnosis has been given to help to access community support services and engage in thorough medication and treatment adherence consultations to ensure that treatment is truly effective. After completing a Health and Wellness Coaching program at Georgetown University, I am also a certified Empowerment Strategist (Coach) and I work to help teenagers and adults to make lasting lifestyle changes, establish balance in their lives and advocate for opportunities in school and in the workplace. Through keynote speaking engagements and targeted workshops, I strive to change the conversation to one of inclusion and partnership as we reinforce the notion that it does in fact “take a village to raise a child” and to ensure the true potential of our nation is realized.