Dr. Marguerite French, 1957 OMRF Fleming Scholar
I thought of myself as a typical teenager. Just an Okie from Muskogee.
Back then, the town was still divided, with a railroad track separating the black and white sides of town.
When I was 17, I scored well on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. My high school science teacher nominated me for OMRF’s Sir Alexander Fleming Scholar Program.
It was only three years after Brown vs. Board of Education, two years after Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus.
I was the first African-American selected as aFleming Scholar.
When I got to OMRF, I can’t recall any segregation. We scholars did everything together.
The highlight of my summer came when I met President Dwight Eisenhower. I was nervous, but he was kind and soft-spoken. He asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without hesitating, I said, ‘I want to be a doctor, just like my father.’
After medical school, I worked as a pediatrician for a few years, then I went into psychiatry. One ear infection looks just like another, but the joy of psychiatry is seeing each person’s life unfurl differently.
OMRF was an absolute miracle for me. I learned that there was a whole, big world out there just waiting to be explored.