When Tia Robertson was a JRF Scholar she had the same career goal as her roommate at the annual Mentoring & Leadership Conference: to become a doctor. Over the four years that they were JRF Scholars, the two had become good friends.
“We were roommates every Mentoring & Leadership Conference for four years and did everything together.”
But after college, they’d lost touch and Tia had lost touch with her goal of practicing medicine. “Though I was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare, I wasn’t committed to practicing medicine until I had more real-life experiences with patients.”
Eventually, she would reconnect with her dream of practicing medicine and attend medical school. As she finished her residency she would also reconnect with her roommate via Facebook and soon received the reply: “I see that I should be calling you Dr. Tia! Congrats girl! One of us made it! Lol! I’m proud of you!”
Tia would quickly learn that the reason the message said “one of us made it” was illness. Her roommate and friend had been battling a rare form of cancer that kept her from pursuing a career in medicine.
A few months later the two would reunite at an alumni gathering. “She was excited to share something with me, her JRF scrapbook,” says Tia. “Going down memory lane reminded me of how special those undergraduate years were and how privileged we were to be nurtured by the Jackie Robinson Foundation.”
That was the final time the two would see each other, but Tia remembers her friend every day. “Despite her own battle, she still encouraged me,” says Tia. “Her legacy reminds me that I am a part of something bigger than myself.”
Today, Tia Robertson is an obstetrician-gynecologist. She works in public health providing gynecological services to rural communities in North Carolina. She also serves as a mentor to undergraduate students interested in careers in medicine as well as at-risk children in the Charlotte Metro region.