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Dr. Patrice Harris Speaks About Leadership for Black History Month

Harris attended West Virginia University where she got her B.A. in psychology and her M.A. in counseling psychology and ultimately her medical degree at a time when women of color were not encouraged to pursue a career in the medical field. She completed her residency in psychiatry at Emory University which encouraged her to continue her career and life in Atlanta.

According to Dr. Patrice A. Harris, President of the American Medical Association, leadership isn’t a title, parking spot, or promotion, it’s “the little things that we do every day that can inspire those around us.” 

In celebration of Black History Month, the University of North Georgia office of Multicultural Student Affairs invited Dr. Harris to be the featured speaker at the university via Zoom.

Harris is the 174th president of the AMA and the first African American president of the AMA and heads the task force to end the opioid epidemic in all 50 states.

Harris currently works in private practice and is an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine.

Harris said, “Leadership can happen in ways large and small. I believe leadership happens more often in small ways in our own personal spheres of influence and in some ways that some people may never see.”

Harris said that leading by example and inspiring others is a powerful leadership tool. Harris said that inspiration can make a huge difference in our lives, especially during this pandemic. Wearing a mask in public, social distancing, and taking a vaccine if available can inspire others to do the same – for the wellness of ourselves and our peers. 

Harris said that leadership could mean talking to friends and family about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. She said if one of our friends or family members is reluctant to take the vaccine, we should ask them why they are concerned about it instead of trying to force our own opinions upon them. When they give us the reasons for their concern, we should respond to each concern individually because thoughtfully responding is a powerful way that students can lead.

Harris told students that they should make a daily habit of checking up on themselves mentally and physically. Students should evaluate things like mental health, sleep schedules, and eating habits to stay well during the pandemic.

Harris reminded students that even when you’re a leader, it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to have to ask for help. She says we are all having a difficult time right now, and great leaders lend a helping hand when needed and can depend on others to do the same.

Harris reminded students that every failure, setback, or pandemic we experience can teach us a valuable lesson.

To conclude, Harris shared a quote from this year’s presidential inauguration from Amanda Gorman, 

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert,

“How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

Harris shared that “when we reframe that question, we give ourselves power because this virus has fatigued us, but there are great things we can do as leaders in the midst of this difficult time.”

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Dr. Patrice Harris Speaks About Leadership for Black History Month