Russell Ledet once studied his organic chemistry flashcards during breaks from his shift as a security guard at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana. Now he’s in the midst of a surgical rotation at that same hospital as he closes in on his dream of becoming a doctor.
Ledet, a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his sister were raised by his single mom, who sometimes needed them to scrounge in grocery store dumpsters for leftover food. After high school, he enlisted in the Navy and realized there was more out there in the world.
While he was stationed in Florida, he met his wife, pictured below with him and their two young daughters on Facebook. She encouraged him to go back to school.
Fathering, my favorite thing to do. It’s the one thing I can promise myself I’ll never slack on. I’ll spend countless…
Ledet did, earning his undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge while serving as a Navy reservist and working as a security guard at Baton Rouge General Medica Center to support his wife and just-born child.
When he worked hospital security, Ledet would ask doctors as they came in what it was like to practice medicine, and the sight of them would motivate him. Other security guards would laugh at him when he said, “One day I will be a doctor,” he recalled in a YouTube video.
But after getting his undergraduate degrees, he received a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from NYU and entered the dual MD/MBA program at Tulane University in New Orleans. He just began his third-year surgical rotation back at Baton Rouge General, his old stomping grounds.
“I’ve been working so hard for so long to get to where I’m at right now,” he said in the YouTube video, pointing out that he has now come full circle.
He also added some words of inspiration to others, saying that success does not have to come at the expense of individuality.
“You don’t have to lose your identity and who you are,” he said. “You can be all of the flavor and culture and everything that comes with who you are no matter your skin color. I just want to tell you all, man, it’s in your reach.”
He also leads “The 15 White Coats,” a group of black medical students at Tulane who want to improve diversity in medicine, starting with young students’ perceptions of doctors. The group caused a stir last year by posing in lab coats in front of the former slave headquarters at Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation.
Here’s a tweet showing one of the images from that shoot. The post outlines the mission of the group:
The 15 White Coats represents a group of medical students determined to reinforce positive imagery in schools around the world by continuing a legacy of resilience. Our cause is to enrich accessible cultural storytelling, inspiration, and mentorship to the youth of tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/XqXby1CYfO
— The 15 White Coats (@the15whitecoats) December 27, 2019
We’re not sure when Ledet has a chance to sleep! Congrats to him on all of his hard work.