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University of Houston. Colman, June - Colman transcript, 1 of 1. September 24, 2007. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 17, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/561/show/560.

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University of Houston. (September 24, 2007). Colman, June - Colman transcript, 1 of 1. Oral Histories from the Houston History Project. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/561/show/560

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University of Houston, Colman, June - Colman transcript, 1 of 1, September 24, 2007, Oral Histories from the Houston History Project, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 17, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/561/show/560.

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Title Colman, June
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  • University of Houston
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  • Houston History Project
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  • Hopkins, Ramona, interviewer
Date September 24, 2007
Description This is an oral history interview with June Colman conducted as part of the Houston History Project.
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • African Americans--Study and teaching
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  • Colman, June
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  • Houston, Texas
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  • interviews
Language English
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Title Colman transcript, 1 of 1
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Original Item Location ID 2006-005, Transcript Box 10, HHA 00636
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Transcript UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON ORAL HISTORY OF HOUSTON PROJECT AND THE AFRICAN AMERICAII PHYSICIANS OF THE 2OTHC ENTURY HOUSTON PROJECT Interview with: Dr. June Colman Interviewed by: Ramona Hopkins Date: September2 4,2007 Transcribedb y: SuzanneM ascola RH: Well, today is Septembe2r 4, 2007,a nd we area t the Centerf or Public History at the University of Houston. We are talking with Dr. June Colman about her experiences as an African Americand octori n Houstonf or the African Americanp hysiciansp roject, Houston Medical Forum. So, thank you for coming and meeting with me today. I appreciateit . Well, first I want to kind of get a little bit about your background. When and where were you born? JC: Well, I was born in the mid 1960s,I guess,in GalvestonT, exas,a t John Sealey Hospital. I lived there for the early part of my life. I lived there until junior high school and then I moved to Houston. RH: And wheny ou did comet o Houston,w hatp art of Houstond id you live in? JC: In the south. I guessit is sort of centrals outhwesot ver nearb ehindw hat usedt o be Astroworld - the Hiram Clark/West Fuqua area. I went to jtrnior high school here at Dowling JuniorH igh Schoola ndt henh igh schoola t the VanguardP rograma t Jones. HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 1 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: I am not familiar with the Vanguard Program . . . JC: Well, the Vanguard Program . . . originally, I was going to go to the High School for Health Professions but at that point - now they have the nice DeBakey campus but all they had were just trailers at that point because this was in 1978,1think is when I started high school. My dad said, "I don't know if that is really what you want to do because it is just so limiting. It is not like a real high school." He said, "You know you want to be a physician so, you are going to do that the rest of your life." So, we looked into the Vanguard program which is a college preparatory program. And so, they have it starting from elementary to junior high at Lanier and then the high school was at Jones. It is now at Carnegie Elementary. They have separated them so they are in a school all by themselves over the last 3 or 4 years. But, at that point, Jones was out of my neighborhood but the reason they did that and still do with a lot of Magnet schools is Magnet schools tend to be a little more diverse and they will put them in predominant campuses as a means to say this school is racially balanced, because Jones was a predominantly African American school. And so, in the Vanguard Program, we had Caucasians, Indians, Asians. And so, it allowed more diversity for our school, although our classes were separate except for gym and music or something like that. RH: O.K.. so vou did have to take some of the . . . JC: Electivesr,i ght. HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 2 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: Tell me a little bit abouty our parentsW. hat weret heir professions? JC: Both of my parents were in the medical field but they were not physicians. My dad was a burn technician. He worked originally at John Sealey like as probably some kind of orderly at first and then he movedt o the Shrine,S hriner'sB urn Hospitala cross the streeta ndt hey trainedh im as a burn tech, so he did harvestingo f skin and cells and replacement on the burn kids. Actually, he was a very, very smart man. He just did not have the opportunity . . . he was bom in a place called Center, Texas. His mother died with the birth of my youngesat unta ndh e probablyo nly had abouta fourth or fifth grade educationb ut you would not know it becauseh e was a very intelligentm an,h e was well-read and that is why he wanted so much for us. So, the job that he actually did, like now, no onel esst hat probablyh ad at leasta bachelor'sd egreew ould be hired for thatj ob. But he did the job. They trained him. He was smart. And then, my mother was a nurse. So, I camef rom, like I said,a backgroundo f medicineb ut I wast he first physician. . . well, I guessm aybeI am the first physiciani n my family. Once he knew that I wanted to be a physician, it was his goal for me to meet every single physician that he knew. There was only one African American physician downt herea t the time, BeverlyL ewis, who was a generasl urgeon.A nd I guessp robably when I first met Beverly,s hew as a resident,m aybe. And so, he wantedm e to meeth er becauseth is was somebodyw ho was doing what I wantedt o do. But he was very, very instrumentailn makings uret hat I achievedm y goal. HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 3 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: O.K., so he wasv ery supportivea boutt hat. JC: Correct. RFI: So, after you moved then, did your father continue working at the bum hospital in Galveston? JC: Actually, when I moved here, my parents were divorced so then when junior high school . . . we moved up here and we lived with my mother. My dad stayed in Galveston. He worked at Shriner's up until the time he died. But yes, he stayed working there. My mother did private duty nursing here in Houston. RH: What about siblings? Did you have siblings? JC: I do. I havea sistert,h atI mentionedto you. Shei s my only full bloods ibling,s o we have the same mom and dad. She is not medically inclined. She is actually in the businessw orld. She has an MBA in marketinga nd she is a vice-presidenat t Black EntertainmenTt elevisionf or off channelm arketing. I had a half brother. My mother was manied before [she married]m y dad, but he [half brother]i s deceasedn ow. And then, I had younger halfbrothers. I have one older halfsister. And so, they are here and around. My older half sister lives in Port Arthur and she works. She is one of the operatorsa t one of the chemicalp lants. And then,m y youngerh alf brothers- one is in the servicea ndt he othero nek ind of works in the restauranitn dustryi n Galveston. HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 4 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: And wheni t wast ime to go to college,w hered id you go to college? JC: I went to Fisk University. In my senior year, or, I guess it was the end of my junior year, I was invited to Duke for a . . . you know how they send out the things, for this kind of a minority studentw eekenda nde verything,a ndb oy, I fell in love andt hat is where I was going to go, I was going to Duke, but we could not afford to go. And so, in the end, my dad said, "There is no way we can make this work." And so, I ended up at Fisk kind of on a whim, becauseI saidI was not goingt o go to schoolh erei n Texas. A lot of my friends were going to UT. I did not want to go to schoolh ere anywherei n Texas. I wanted to go out of Texas. And so, I did not really know much about Fisk but a family friend mentionedt hat to my dad and said, "O.K., well, if she is not going to go here,w hy don'ty ou look at Fisk?" So,t hat is whereI endedu p. And I wasm iserableth e first semestebr ecausea fter having beena t Duke, you know, this big sprawlingc ampus ande verythinga, ndF isk was a very small liberal artss chool,I am thinkingw hat is going on? But after I sort of let it go and said,d o you know what,m aybet herei s a reasonG od placed me here, then I loved it, you know, and I would not do things any differently. And so, I graduatedfr om Fisk with a bacheloro f arts in biology. And then,a ctually,I did not get into medical school initially. I am a very social person. My dad would say, "A11 this stuff you are doing - sorority, president of this, president of that, I don't see these kids down here doing all that," you know, that are going to medical school. I said, "Oh, dad, it is going to be O.K." So, I did not get in right away. So, I cameb ackh erea nd I did researcha t Baylor HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 5 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives for one year. I was like, no, I don't want to be back in Houston,b ecauseI neededto be where I was, you know, reatly making sure I was focusing on my goal which was to get into medical school. So, I went back to Nashville and just took a couple of classes, mastersle vel classesa t Fisk, andt hen I got into medicals choolt he next yeara t Meharry Medical College. RH: Now, what medicals choolsd id you applyf or? JC: I appliedf or the schoolsh erei n Texas,a nd at Meharry. I think I evena ppliedt o like Universityo f Minnesotab ecauseI had a friend who was there. But that is probably it. Just basically Meharry, and the schools here, University of Minnesota. I think that may be it. RH: What madey ou chooseto go to MeharryM edical School? JC: Well, Meharry was right across the street from Fisk. I had a great support networkt here. So,I just thoughtt hat that wasw hereI belongedb ecauseI hadp oor study habits,v ery poor studyh abits. I rememberD, r. Rogersa ndI went to high school. . . and Joanne has always been so focused. Oh, we had a project and her project was just over the top and,o f course,I was doing whatevers ocialt hingst herew eret o do. And I never ever . . . I alwaysu sedt o tell my parentsb, oy, if I could do it over again,I don't caret he fact that we were halfway smart. You guys should have made us sit down every night, get in the habit of sitting down for how ever many hours and studying. So, we never had 6 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 6 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives thoseg oodh abits. So, as you went furthera nd further in your educationacl areer,w ell, you just did not know it or it was not that easy to learn. You actually had to study. And that wasj ust the hardesth ing. And so,I neededto put myselfi n an environmenwt hereI thoughtI was goingt o havet he mosth elp becauseI knew that I could do the work but it was just the focus, you know, the focusing was going to be difficult I thought for me. RH: I have heard a couple of the doctors talking about just how much help and support you do get from the other classmateisn your medicalc lass,j ust with study groupsa nd things like that. JC: Correct. RH: What yeard id you graduatefr om Fisk University? JC: In 1985. RH: And theny ou startedM eharry. . . JC: In 1987. RH: And graduatedin ? JC: 1993. HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 7 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: Wheni t camet ime for your residency. . . well, first of all, what is your specialty? JC: I am an obstetrician/gynecologisPt.r obablye nteringi nto the third year is when you start thinking about what you want to do. And as you go through the third year, you do like 6 basicr otations. So,i nternalm edicine,s urgery,O B/GYN, pediatricsp, sychiatry and therew as one other one. And you get to do a little bit of the subsetso f the things. And so, as you go through the different rotations, you really have to see what it is you like, what your strengthsa re,w hat your weaknesseasr e. And I could sort of go througha lot of those things and say, oh noo this is not for me. And so, I was originally interested in ophthalmology and I do not know how I came up with that. I think I was thinking lifestyle. But I could not seet hrought he ophthalmoscopeI.t was really difficult. And I said I do not think I can havea careeri n somethingth atj ust the basicb eginningo f it, I am struggling with it. And when I looked at OB/GYN, I always enjoyed it. But then you heard the lifestyle is so hard, this and this. But it really was going to be a good field for me becauseo, ne,i t was a field that the patientsw erey ounga ndh ealthy, for the most part,s o it wasn ot like you wereg oingt o have to remembetrh esel ong, intricateh istories and all of that. The patients would come, you would see them, they would go - I liked that. I wantedt o havet he continuityo f careb ut I did not want any patientsin the hospital for 60 daysa nd 90 daysa nd 30 days,t he discharges ummariesth at you had to do. And thena lso,t his was something-- wheny ou lookeda t the books, like for medicine,f or any of the specialties-- cardiology, hematologyg, astroenterolog-y- you know, 6 or 7 books, huge, and I am thinking how can one person master what is in there? And OB/GYN, HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 8 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives even though it is divided into a lot of subspecialtiesit, is a learnable. . . you know, somethingth at really . . . someonew ho is not brilliant becauseI am not professingto be brilliant . . . could master and it is a field that you can do. And I was sort of looking for that. I wantedy omg, healthyp atients,I wanteda variety becauseI do get boredv ery easily,p robablyb ecauseI saido n the concentrationd,i agnosem e now - maybeI do have a little bit of ADHD, becausey, ou know, concentrationth ings. And I like variety. That is what keepsm e going in OB/GYN. We operatew, e havet o delivert he babiesw, e have an office, so it is constantly,e very day. It is the sameb ut it is different. It has the potentialt o be different. So,t hat is what really attractedit to me. RH: All right, well, for the studentsc, an you pleaset ell what obstetriciansd o? And gynecologists? JC: Well, we deliver babies, so for any of you listening, if you were not delivered by an obstetriciant,h en you were deliveredb y a midwife which is a nursew ho delivers babies in home cases. But we deliver babies. We take care of moms throughout their prenatal. . . prenatali s the coursew heret hey arep regnant. . . we take careo f momsa nd then we deliver the babies. But that is it. Once that is done, we stop. We do not take careo f little munchkins,w e just deliver them and passt hem off to pediatricians.A s a gynecologistI, take care of the needso f women as it referst o their reproductivetr act. So, that would be their uterus, their ovaries, their fallopian tubes, their vagina, and any issuest hat comeu p with that, thosea re the areast hat I treat. So, whetheri t be in the office througha n office exama nd diagnosiso r surgery. So, I am also a surgeon. So, I HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 9 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives operateo n thosea reasli ke I just detailed:t he vagina,t he rectum,s ometimesth e bladder, the uterus,t he fallopiant ubesa ndo varies. RH: I wanted to ask you and I have forgotten to do it - we talked about it before the interview but I wanted to say it again. When did you know you wanted to be a doctor? What inspired you to want to be a doctor? JC: Well, like I said, from what everyone can tell me, I have always said that and it probably just had to do with the fact that both of my parents were in the medical field. But I never said I wanted to be a nurse or a burn tech, I always said I wanted to be a physician. I don't know wherei t camef rom but that is just my earliestr ecollectiona nd anybodye lse'si n my family . . . the earliestr ecollectionis that I alwayss aidt hat that was what I was going to be. So, probably just from my parents and then you think each generationis supposedto go higher,s o they had alreadyd one this, so the next stepf or me would be the actual physician. RH: Where did you end up doing your residency? JC: I did my residency in Galveston at the University of Texas at Galveston and interestinglye nough,t here were two gentlemenw ho were fighting over who delivered me. So, I actuallyh ad to get my birth certificateb ecauseb oth of them were still there and my mother worked at John Sealeya t the time. And so, the gentlemenw, hen I checked it, it was Dr. Charles Powell who was still there. He worked just part-time l0 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 10 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives becauseh e spentl ike 6 or 7 monthsi n Africa andt hen he cameb ack andw orkedp art of the half of the time he was here. But he actuallyd eliveredm e andI wast he first resident who would have actually been what is called the BOI, bom on the island, actually bom in that hospital to come back and train there. Actually, that was a real big deal. And then for me to be this little African Americang irl, you know, was kind of amazingt,h at it had come full circle. RH: And you spentt he entirer esidencyth ere? JC: The entirer esidencyth ere. RH: I know you were saying that when it came time to go to college, that you really did not want to stay in Houston, so what made you decide to come back to practice in Houston? JC: Well, actually,t he reasonI evenc ameb ackh eret o residencyin Februaryo f 1993 which was my seniory ear, my dad was diagnosedw ith metastaticp rostatec ancera nd just given a short time to live. I had not planned to come back to Houston but it was then imperativet hat I comeb ackb ecausea s harda s residencyis , I did not know how I would be able to focus,b eing somewherea long way and know that he was going to die and wantingt o be ablet o spendt ime with him, to be ablet o seeh im on a daily basis. And so, God sort of workedi t out so that I couldg et backh erea ndb e aroundb ecauseh e diedj ust 2 monthsi nto my residencyin Augusto f 1993. 11 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 11 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: I understandyo ur husbandis alsoa doctor. Is that correct? JC: That is correct. JC: He is a gastroenterologist. RH: We started a little bit about talking about your high school being integrated. What aboute lementarys choola ndj unior high - had the schoolsi ntegratedy et when you were in elementarvs chool? JC: Yes. In elementarys chool,I did go to elementarys chooli n Galvestona nd started off at SacredH eart in the Catholic Church and RosenbergE lementarya nd so I had classmateosf all races. I was born in 1963,s o that was in 1968. But they were integrated. I can think of Jenny Goldberg and Robin Peek, some of my friends that were not black, that I don't know wheret hey are but I still rememberth eir rutmesb ecauseI spentt ime at their house. They spentt ime at my house. But the schoolsw ere . . . it is surprisingb ecauseth at was 1968. Well, it was 1968 when I went to kindergartens o maybe this was, by then, I was in third grade, so this maybe was 1970 that they were integrated.A nd the samet hing with junior high, becauseI did oney earo fjunior high in Galvestonm aybeb eforeI came to Houston. And Dowling was integrated.I t still may t2 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 12 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives haveb eena t that point predominantlyA frican Americanb ut therew ere Caucasiantsh ere and some Hispanics. So really, I was in an area where I went to school with diversity, really until I went to collegeb ecauseF isk is an African Americanl iberal arts school. Private. RH: Do you havea ny recollectionso f any problemso ccurring- - racism,d iscrimination, in schooling? JC: No, I mean,n ot for that but I will sayt o the youngp eopleI hada counselowr hen I was in high school -- well, I do not know if I should call her name but her initials are K.A. -- sheh adt old me, like in the VanguardP rogramt,h erew erej ust somer eally,r eally smart people in that program and like I said, I am O.K. smart . . . you do not have to be a brilliant person to be a physician. You have to be smart and you have to be willing . . . just baselines marta ndw illing to work hard. And keepingi n mind that herew e had . . . I am just trying to think of some of the people -- they were really brilliant . . . and she said to me -- I don't know if someoneh ad told her that my aspirationw as to be a physician, but she said, "What makes you think that you can be a physician? You don't have the gradeso r anythingt o" . . . becauseh erew erep eoplew ho were on that scale,y ou know, not the 4.0 but the 5.0 scale,ju st kind of like becauseit was advancedp lacement. She said, "Oh, no, you won't ever be a doctor." And boy, that just really . . . it actually made me mad. And so I thought,y ou know what? Shed oesn'tk now what shei s talking about and she does not know who she is talking to. She can't just look at it just by sheer grades alone- - just becauseI am not studyinge ver singleo ther hour of the day and maybeI 13 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 13 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives have more B's than I have A's, does not mean that I am not going to achieve my goal. And so, I always thought about her as I went through and as I hit another roadblock -- I thought about her and I said, oh no, I am going to prove her wrong. RH: Well, I kind of wanted to ask a little about when you were in high school. What sort of classesd id you take in ordert o be able to fulfill your goal? What sort of things did you. . . JC: Well, like I said, the Vanguard Program was a college preparatory program anywaysoeverythingwasalev.e. .l Iknowl tookLat inbecauseyouknewthatalotof times, the root of a lot of the words in medicine were Latin, so I took a couple of years of Latin because I enjoyed that, and I liked words, I liked to read. But other than that, you know, I think we took our basic science courses. I had chemistry, I had maybe some upper level math. So, just the basic courses that you had to take in order to go to college. Now, like I said, it was a college preparatory program. I don't know what is different now between what is going on now and what went on . . . I finished high school in 1981 . . .26 years ago, but hardly anyone that I know that went to college took remedial classes. We got right in, you started on the classes. So now, I meet so many younger people and they are taking their first year all of these like remedial classes. And I am thinking, what is going on in high school that this is being the norm? But, like I said, maybe it was that I was in the Magnet school, so the classes were of an upper level, and maybe the college that I went to . . . I don't know. I have not been able to figure that out, why these kids achieving to take all these remedial things. But I just took the basic things. It wasn't I4 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 14 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives anythings pecial,b ecauseit was a whole thing with goingt o the Vanguarda s opposedto the DeBakey, that eventually, I was going to get to the point where they were going to teach me everything I needed to know about medicine. So, I needed to have a well-roundedb ackgroundb ecausere ally I feel like you havet he basicf undamentalws heny ou leave high school. College is not about teaching you what you should have learned in high school. It is kind of moref reet hinking andj ust expandingth e foundation. RH: O.K., well, tell me a little bit aboutm edicals chool. What sorto f classesd o you have to start with in medical school that you do there? JC: Well, I mean, the curriculum is basically the same everywhere. You take anatomy because you have to know the parts of the body, how they work inside and out. So, you have what is called a cadaver. That is someone who has donated their body to science, and you use those to dissect, to see how everything fits together. So you put it together, take it apart, put it together again and it helps you, especially when you are a surgeon like myself, because you need to know how the organs are related to each other, how they are organized and everything. So, anatomy was a first year class. Physiology. I think microbiology. Microbiology is where, if you ever like to look under a microscope, basically that is what it was, is kind of the microscopic organization of our body and tissues. Anatomy, we talked about that. Physiology is what makes the body nrn. So, why do your legs operate the way that they do? What is the reaction going on there that makes the muscles churn to make you run and walk and all of that? I am trying to think - what were the other big ones in the first year? Anatomy, physiology, maybe 15 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 15 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives biochemistrya ndt hat is kind of relatedt o physiology. But thosew ere someo f the basic coursesin startingo ff in medicals chool. So,y ou definitelyn eededto know the organso f the body,t he differentp dS, and then,h ow they worked,h ow they workedt ogetheri n a system.A nd so,t hat is what the basicf irst ands econdy earo f medicals choola rea bout- - gettingi ntroducedto the body andt hen,h ow it works. RH: O.K., and then the third year is the year that you do the rotations? JC: Right. You have to take all of that information that you learned and now, apply it to real live patients. RH: O.K., well, my brothera ctually,h e is a psychiatrista nd he went to an osteopathic college in Iowa and I think his first physical he said took like 3 hours or something because he was being so thorough. He was just trying to make sure he got everything. I have never forgotten that. I always thought that was kind of interesting. But I can understandif you haveg ot 2 yearso f all of that information. . . JC: Right, and you have to figure out jut how to sort it out. It is a long time before you get into a rhythm and can do things in a thorough manner but practical as far as time. RH: For you, what was the hardest part about medical school? JC: The studying. t6 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 16 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: The studying? JC: Yes,b ecausey ou just . . . like I said,I understoodw hat was beings aidb ut it was just the sheer volume. There is no way that you could just go to class and that was enough,y ou had to study. And, like I said,p robablyi f somebodyw ould diagnosem e, I may have a little bit of ADHD becauseth at was the hardestp art. And you seej ust the time medical school took longer. I was out for 2 yearc. . . they knew that I was smart. I had a great reading score on the MCAT so they know if you can read, they can teach you anything. So, I started off in a 5 year program so that things the first 2 years, instead of being 2 years with the speed then they were broken down into 3, and at my medical schoola t that point, you hadt o passp art I of the boards.N ot all of the schoolsd id that at that point before you went into the clinical part which was the third and fourth year. Basically, I had the knowledge there but to be able to really sit down and study like I neededto for the boards,i t didn't happen. So, I did not passt hoseb oardsi n ordert o go that first time. And so, I sat out, I studied. It was like a punishment. And I would tell any young person . . . really, no one else had to punish me, I could punish myself because that was my goal. So, all of the other things that I loved to do, all my little social things - - I was presidento f the prealumnia nd I was this and I was that -- it went away. So, for those 4 months that I had, I did nothing but study and exercise. I wanted to keep my body strong. The studying made my mind strong. And when I retook that exam, it wasn'te noughju st to pass- I neededto scorei n the top tier. So,i f it everc ameu p to say, yes, I did not apply myself but once I did, you see how well I did. And that is what t7 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 17 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives happened. So, I passedt hat next time and made sure for my . . . becauseI always assertedo nceI could get to the patientb ecauseth at was my strongs uit, is that I am a peoplep erson- I love people- and so, I would do whateveri t took to take careo f them once I was actually seeing a real patient. So, I made sure my third and fourth year I was on the dean'sli st just to kind of balanceo ff thoseb asics cienceg rades,li ke I said,w hen people were looking at it . . . they could see, well, yes, the basic science, all that studying,s itting down, was not her suit but onces heg ot to working with patients,a nd event houghI had to studyf or that, it meantm oret o me becauseI had Mrs. Shaw . . . I neededto makes uret hat I did not screwu p something. So I much more enjoyedt hird and fourth year of medical school than I did the first two years. RH: So that the kids understandw, hen you talk aboutt he boards,w hat do you meanb y the boards? JC: It is an exarn, probably similar to this TAKS test that you take. So, if you do not pass the TAKS test, you do not get out of high school or you do not go from the third to the fourth grade and, what is it, the fifth or the sixth? So, it is a similar type of exam. It is an assessmenotn everythingt hat you had done before and you have to scorea t a passingle vel in ordert o go to the next step. So, it is pretty much identicalt o the TAKS test. When I was in school here in Houston. we did not have all that. We had the Iowa Basic Skills Test andt herew as anothere xamt hat startedw ith an S, but we did not have this TAKS test that they have. But that is the best analogy for it. 18 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 18 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: O.K. And that was one of the requirementso f Meharry,t hat you had to take this board to be able to move on? JC: Exactly. RH: But you aren ot 100%i f others choolsw ered oing . . . JC: A lot of schools did not have it but I can tell you, since then, since I have been back in Houston, a lot of schools have put that requirement in because what happened is they allowed students to go through like the whole 4 or 5 years of medical school and once you leave the basic sciences, you are not going to remember all of that, and it is changing. So, they had a number of students who were not passing part I when they got ready to take it. And so, here they were, they technically finished medical school but they cannot graduate. So, I think schools period are requiring before you actually matriculate into the clinical years, you have got to pass part 1. RH: Wheny ou startedp racticing,d id youj oin the HoustonM edicalF orum? JC: I did. I was probably doing things with the Houston Medical Forum even residencyb ut definitelyw henI startedp racticing,I becamea member. RH: Well, why do you feel that it was important to join the Houston Medical Forum? I9 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 19 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: Well, I think you are isolated sometimes when you work because you are working,s o if you do not haveo ther physiciansin your office, you know, sometimesy ou are working and you may see each other in the cafeteria or in the halls at work but that is abouti t. So,I thoughti t was importantt o havea n organizationw hereI could network and fellowship with other physicians who may have sort of the same thoughts and sometimes omeo f the samec hallensesth at I had. RH: What about the National Medical Association? Were vou a member of that? JC: I am a membero f the National Medical Associationa nd I participatedw ith the NMA even in residencyf or the OB/GYN -- I am going to abbreviateo bstetricsa nd gynecology as OB/GYN . . . before their section, probably, I think it was in 1996, the NMA was in Chicagoa nd I had a really goodp rojectt hat I had donei n residencya nd I wantedt o presentit . And so, I calledt hemu p andI said," Hey" . . . Ruth Scarborougihs the person who just makes our section go . . . and I said, "I really want to come to Chicago and I want to present this great project that I have." And she said, "Well, we neverh ada ny residentsd o a talk but let me ask,"a ndI don'tr emembewr ho the chairw as overt he section. But anyway,I endedu p doing it. So, I was actuallyt he first resident o everd o a presentatiotno the section.B ut now, we actuallyh avea formal residents ection so eachy ear,l ike 6 or 7 residentsc omea ndt hey do presentationasn dw e decidew ho the winner is. So,t his year,o ur conferencew as in Hawaii so I was one of the tellersf or the residentsp rogram. So, as I look back,y ou know, beforem e in 1996,w e did not havea residents ection. 20 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 20 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: All right. Wheny ou did comet o Houston,w hered id you starty our practice? JC: Well, I started in the east part of Houston which is still where I am located now and that was in t997. l, actually, again, I was here, I did not plan to stay in Houston. I wasj ust trying to work for just one year. My husbandw as still in fellowship. I did not want to stay here. I wanted to go to Atlanta or back to Nashville. And so, I was really looking for a job for someonew ho would hire me for just oney ear. And as it tumedo ut, it was a little more difficult becauseI was supposedto be signingo n with one of these kind of large,m ultispecialtyg roupsa nd at the last minute,w hat happened. . . Well, I think theyj ust changedth ej ob on me. They changedw hereI was supposedto be anda ll that. And so,h erei twas. . . well,m aybeju st. . .I gotmarriedin May of 1997t,h ee nd of May, so it may have beenl ike in May that this whole job with this organizationfe ll through. I am thinking O.K., I am goingt o be finishing residencyin a coupleo f months and I do not have a job. So, I had to get looking for a job. And another friend of mine who was finishing had interviewed with a woman out on the east part of Houston who was so busy and neededs omeoneth at sheh ad said," Well eveni f shej ust wantst o stay for this little bit of time, just have her come and talk to me." So, I went there and she was fine. Originally, the hospital had said they would do a deal for one year and then they came back and said, "Well, no, we can't do it for one year, it would have to be for 3 years." And so, then sheh ad said that fine, as long as I would sign becausey ou had to pay the hospitalb ack,t hat we would work out somethingif I decidedt o leaveb eforet he third year. So.t hat is whereI startedo" ut in eastH ouston. 2l HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 21 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives I had never even been out there that much, well, really ever probably except for goingt o Louisiana,s o it was a whole new area. But actually,I was very successfuinl my firstyearofpracticeIh. adaverylucrativeg uaranteebutltook..I.o nlyneededabout one-fifth or lesso f that money,y ou know, what amountedto $36,000i s all the hospital hadt o give me becaused uringt hat time, I was seeinge noughp atientsm, akinge nought o pay myself over what they had guaranteemd e. So,I don'tt hink anybodyw ho hasc ome through since me has been able to achieve that goal. Like I said, I may not want to sit down and study,b ut I am entrepreneurial.I am probablya smartb usinesswomanM. y father,b esidesb einga burn tech,h e ownedt wo little neighborhoodn ightclubsa ndt hat is what sentu s to school. He was very entrepreneuriatlo, o. The practicew ent well and I stayedw ith her for 5 years. I left in2002 becausew e just couldn ot comet o a partnership agreementA. nd for youngp eople,i f you decideo n a careerin medicine,y ou will havet o work and either be someone'se mployeeo r you need to be in a situationw here you becomea partner. Becauseo therwise,U ncle Sam will take all of your eamings. And whenw e could not comet o an agreemenitn that, I just decidedt o startm y own practice. And I stayedi n the building. I just movedd ownstairsa nd openedu p in Juneo f 2002. So,j ust 3 monthsa go,I celebratedm y 5th anniversaryo n my own, and I wasj ust very blessedt o do so. The sameo rganizationth at I was supposedto havew orkedw ith and they changedt he terms of the agreemenat t the last minute, they went undert hat year. Well, probably the end of 2001, the beginning of 2002. So, I was able . . . I had a friend who workedf or them and I was ablet o buy all of my equipmenfto r the new office from thema t a fractiono f the cost. I mean,ju st the bestt hings. I couldn ot havea skedf or . . . It all fell into place. So, unlike several people that I had known that opened their 22 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 22 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives practices and had to take a bank loan, I did not have to do any of that. I opened my practice out of my own earnings. And so, I never owed anybody for anything. And the practiceh as donev ery, very well. I think 2 yearsa go,I took on an associatea, partner, and she also trained at UTMB - University of Texas Medical Branch. She went to Spelmanfo r undergrada ndU niversityo f TexasS anA ntonio for medicals chool. So, she hasj oined me andw e may be ablet o get someonen ext year,a notherp artner. I am trying to build what we had not had in Houston. We have not had a large group of OB/GYN women that are African American. They have not been able to survive. So, I am convinced that you can do it. It is probably the same as a marriage. It takes a lot of sacrifice,it takesa lot of understandinagn dw ork but I am determinedto do that. And so, I am hoping that one young woman that we have been talking to who is already finished, but that she may want to come and work with us next year. And then in2009, there are two young womenw ho were finishing who I am interestedin and they have expressed interest. I cannot take them both but hopefully, one of them. And I think if we can get to 4, thatw ill be great. And recently,ju st down the streetf rom U of H . . . two yearsa go,I purchased a piece of property and the first phase of that which is a new office for Serenity Health Care for Women which is the name of my practice, will be opening. I had hoped it would be this month but we had run into a little problem with the air conditioning, but the building is complete. So we hope to be seeing U of H, TSU and other people at that office there. RH: So, you will have the two clinics basically? 23 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 23 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: The two offices, right. RH: Which hospitalsd o you havep rivilegesa t? JC: My main hospital is East Houston Medical Center which is out on the east part of Houston which is where I started. I also have privileges downtown at St. Joseph's Hospitala nd thosea re the two I usem ostly becausefo r a practicea s busy as I am, they are the most reasonable. I have privileges at St. Luke's but I don't use St. Luke's a lot becausea, lot of times,t heir rules . . . you know, you havet o be presentf or an epidural. . . thosek inds of things are not conceivable- I mean,t hey don't go alongw ith practicing 20 minutes away. And so, I don't let patients decide to go there unless I have a baby with a badh eartt hat I know abouta heado f time or somethingw herei t is to our benefitt o be right therea ndd eliverr ight there,s o that TexasC hildren'sis on the spot insteado f the baby having to get transferred. RH: That is somethingth at I hadn everr eally thoughto f beforeb ut if a couplec omesi n, they are pregnant and they don't have a specific hospital that they want to go to, then what are some of the things that you think about to decide . . . I mean, obviously, if you know that there is some sort of problem with the baby, you maybe go to St. Luke's so that TexasC hildren'sis right thereb ut what would be someo therf actorst o makey ou decide where would be the best place to deliver the baby? JC: Well, for me or for the couple? 24 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 24 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: Well, for both, I guess. JC: Well, for me, like I said, it is going to be where I am going to be so, east Houston, my office is theres o that is perfectb ecauseI walk acrosst he streeto r jump in my car if the baby is like right there and in less than 1 minute, I am there. St. Joe's is great becauseit is 5 minutes away from my house. So, one of the things with so many obstetricians,r ecently obstetriciansb eing female, we have learned how to do the specialty and have a life. And so, in order to do that, you cannot have patients just deliveringa t any point becausey ou cannoth avea life that way. So, you will find most womenw ho are obstetricianst,h ey induce,t hey scheduleth e delivery for 90 someo dd percento f their patients.S o,w hat I do is duringt he week - Wednesdaay ndT hursdayf or my patients that are delivering at East Houston, that is when I deliver them. On the weekendsth at I am on call, so the Friday and Saturdayfo r patientst hat are deliveringa t St. Joe's,I will scheduleth em. It is gettinga little bit harderf or the patientsw ho choose to delivera t St. Joe'sb ecausen ow our grouph ase xpandedto 5. So, I am only on call I weekendin 5, so it is a little trickier. SometimesI just havet o let them go into labora nd just hopet hat it works out, that I cang ett herea ndd elivert hema ndi t is not someonee lse on call, becausew ith this kind of tri componentto obstetricsa nd gynecologys, o you are in the office - you havet o haveo ffice hourst o generateth e deliveriesa ndt he surgeries, you havet o havet ime to operate,a nd then you havet o havet hosed eliveriesi n there also. So,i t is kind of very strategicg ettinge verythingt o work just right. 25 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 25 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: Well, what are someo f the changesfi rst of all that you have noticedi n Houston sincep racticingh ere,s inceg rowingu p here? What are someo f the major changesy ou have noticed? JC: well, of course, the size. I mean, Houston was large even then but, you know, when I grew up, therew as not really a Pearlandt,h erew asn'ta Katy like it is. So, all of thosea reash avee xpanded.E venA lief Clodine. You know, therea reh igh schoolst hat I do not even know the nameo f all the high schoolsb ecauseH oustonh as expandeds o much and so, that is probably one thing, is just the expansion. This is such a large city now, includingt he unincorporateda reasa nd I would say,w ell, just in the medicalf ield . . . I mean,w e have so many physiciansh erea nd as an African American,t herea re so manyA frican Americanp hysiciansw, hich is great. . . so many that evena n organization like the HoustonM edical Forum. Therea re probablyh alf of the physiciansin Houston that are African Americant hat we don't evenk now becauseo f The WoodlandsK, aty, Spring - they live out and you know, then you are thinking, after you have worked all day, on a Tuesday evening - are you going to come in for a meeting? And so, that is one of our struggles,is trying to contactt hese physiciansa nd get things, where we could maybe, you know, kind of bring them in and make them a part of the organization but that has sort of beeno ne of the kind of thingsb ecausew e haveh ad all of this spreadin Houston. So, those are things that I think are great things but that are different than I remembefrr om 10 yearsa goo r 20 yearsa go. 26 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 26 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives RH: What are someo f the strategiesth at HoustonM edical Forum is trying to take in ordert o be ablet o recruitt hesep hysiciansfr om Katy or from . . . JC: Well, we are trying to sometimesh avea lternativem eetingd ates,m eetingt imes. So, sometimesw e will do thingst hat aren ot on Tuesdayb ut on a weekend.W e alsot ry to have at leasto ne meetings o that they can bring their spousesb ecauseth at is a big deal,y ou know, if you are working all the time . . . your spouseis like, "You are not going anywhere else. You need to be home," dah, dah, dah, dah, this . . . so that that way, you can say, "Well, honey, but you can come, too. You can come and we are going to have a good dinner and we will have a meeting and a good topic," you know, things like that. So, I think those are things that are probably attracting more people to say, "H.y, let me come and take a look at them." And then, the intemet really helps because the bulk of the organizationis run by physicians. So, like I said,D r. JoanneR ogersi s the president - we went to high school together - I am the vice-president. All of our officersa rep hysiciansa ndw e area ll very busyp hysicians. And so,t o thent ry to run an organizationi s extra work and extra time spent. We do have someonew ho kind of coordinates. Shei s like our administrativea ssistanbt ut moret han that and shea ctually works for Methodist in their PR department. But she sort of keeps us going with some of thej ust major day-to-dayth ingst hat an organizationn eedsto takec areo f. RH: How long havey ou beeni n the vice-presidenpto sitiona t the organization? JC: This is my first year. 27 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 27 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: Before that, I was the parliamentarian. RH: And what does that mean? JC: That is just making sure that the meetings run according to Roberts Rules of order, things do not get out ofhand. RH: Again, this is somethingth at you and I talkeda bouta little bit earlierb ut what are someo f the changesy ou haven oticedi n medicines incey ou haveb eenp racticing? JC: Well, the major changesli ke we spokeo f would be as far as,w ell, evens tarting-just patientp erceptiono f physicians.P hysiciansw ere,a t one point, very well-respected andp atientsa ppreciatedth e sacrificesth at you madet o treatt hem. Now, theres eemsto be a sense of entitlement like they are entitled to it and they are entitled to have a physiciant o takec areo f thema ndt hat can . . . andw e all took an oath,y ou knowot o take careo f peoplea nd treat them right, but you do want peoplet o appreciatew hat you are doing becausey ou don't have to do it, you really don't. So, that is one thing is just probably I think the respect that doctors garnered at one time, I think that has greatly dimmed. And then certainlyw hat everybodyt alks about- the reimbursementsP. eople still want to think that being a physician means you are going to be rich. Well, you are 28 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 28 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives probably not going to be rich, not just from practicing medicine. You will certainly have a good life. You shouldh avea good,c omfortablel ife but you are working for it. So, that is sort of, you know, a challengeb ecausey ou arew orking and everyy ear,y ou have companiesw ho havet he right to tell you what you canc hargea ndw hat they areg oingt o pay you. RH: What do you think has altered the patients'perception? Do you have any ideas why you think that is happening? JC: You know, I don't know. I really don't know. I think it is generationabl ecause wheny ou haveo lder patientst,h ey are still respectfual nd all of that. So,I really think it is just this new generation.I think theyj ust havek ind of a globald isrespecfto r anything, any figure of authority. And so, I guessw e are authoritativein medicineju st like police anda ttorneysa ndw hatever.S o,I think it is just a globalt hing. RH: Well, if a high schools tudentc ameu p to you and said, "I am interestedin going into medicine, I want to be a doctor," what would be some advice you would give to them? JC: Well, first I would say make sure you have good study habits, that you can, even if you don't needi t, just find somethingto do 2 to 3 hoursa night, eveni f meansr eading aheadb ecauseyo u areg oingt o needt o do it. . . unlessy ou arejusto neo fthe fewjust truly brilliant peoplet hat have a photographicm emory,y ou are going to have to be 29 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 29 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives disciplined enough to study every single night or most nights for 3, 4, or 5 hours a night in order to keep up. And then, I would make sure that you are well rounded. When you apply to medicals chools,t hey have a lot of just really smartp eopleb ut that is not just enought o make it in medicineb ecausea lot of the times, the peoplew ho are really, really smart, they never develop their social side and so they do not make good physiciansw ho are in privatep ractice. And I think that is one of the reasonsth at I have beens o successfubl ecauseI am a really engagingp erson.A nd so,m y patientsr eally like me. They think that I am their girlfriend. They come to see me just really to chat and tell me what is going on in their lives, but they know I can take care of their health needs, but I am like their good girlfriend that they have not seen for one year. And so, I would say makes uret hat everythingi s not centereda roundt his desiret o go to medical school. Be well rounded. Find out what you like. When you go to college, you don't havet o major in biology and chemistry,y ou can major in dance,y ou can major in voice becausea nybodyw ho is interviewingf or medicals chool,t hey get the biggestk ick out of someonew ho comesi n there with someo ther degreea s long as you have taken your prerequisitebs ecauseth e sameh oldst rue, I was told yearsa go. In medicals chool,t hey will teachy ou everythingt hat you needt o know. So, if you get the book for the medical schoolsa nd just take your prerequisitesi,f you want to major in dance,i n Spanish,in French,in romanticl anguagesin, psychologyt,h at is fine. RH: What were some of the things that you found that helped you with your study habits becausey ou ares ayingt hat it wasa real strugglef or you? 30 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 30 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: Well, like I said - prayer, prayer and . . . it was difficult until I was under the fire, you know, until I was under the fire. So, it was just a struggleb ecauseth at was like undoing years of leamed behavior. So, even now, like I love to read and I don't really allow myself to read -- I go to the library, check out books and I can read a book, a 400 pagen ovel in a coupleo f daysi n a weekend.B ut I don't do that becauseI will do that at the distractiono f everythinge lse. So,e venn ow, sometimesw henI havet hingsI needt o catch up on,I will just make myself think about it like that novel. That is like my reward. If I go on and do this, then I can read this novel next week. And so, it is kind of a checks andb alancesli ke that I will sort of hold myselfb ecausee vent houghI am finishedn ow, I still have to read. I like to read, you know, when I am eating. And so, if I need to keep up with journals and things like that, that will be my reading as I am having dinner - I am goingt o readi t then. Or, like I said,t he magazinea rticlet hat I really want to read,I am goingt o readt hisj ournal article. So,y ou know, it is really kind of a checksa ndb alances, like that. It is my reward. If I do what I urms upposedto do, thenI canr ewardm yself. RH: All right. Well, I was askingt hat becausew, ell, I told you I usedt o teachs peciale d and I actually do have attention deficit disorder and I was taught by my father - a man who was not going to let me not study and not work hard. So, I am always curious about what sort of thingsp eopled o in ordert o adapto r learnh ow to becausen ot everybodyis gooda t studying. It is true. And wheny ou were sayingg ettingd istractedb y the books, my sister is like that -- if she is reading a book, that is all she wants to do is read that book - nothing else. 31 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 31 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: Right ,andtheother thinglwould. . . Imakemypat ientusn. .f.o r tunately, these days, we have a lot of young wome4 young - in high school, junior high - who are pregnant. So now that schoolh as startedt,h ey want to seem y midwife, they don't want to seem e becauseI maket hemt eachm e somethinge veryt ime they comei n becauseth ey are coming in post school. So, every time they come in, they have to teach me something they learnedt hat day. So, I do that as a way, becauseI do learnd ifferentt hings,a nd it makest hem, at leasto n the dayst hat they havet he appointmentt,h ey say, "I needt o pay attentioni n one of thesec lassesb ecauses he is goingt o askm e to teachh er something." And I try to tell them . . . I was telling some last week . . . that when you can teach someones omethingy, ou will know it like the backo f your hand. So,t hat was oneo f the thingst hat helpedm e to studyb ecauseI hadt o studya ndi nterpreti t in a way that I could teach it to my little study group people, and I was sort of like a parasite in the study groupsb ecauseI would always want peoplet eachingm e andt hat is what we did because someonec ould explaini t sometimess o muchb ettert hant he instructorb ecauseth ey had gotten the gist of it and someone 25 years younger kind of would relate it to you in such a mannert hat, O.K., that makesp erfects ense.A nd so,t hat is anotherw ay wheny ou are havingt rouble focusing- incorporateth e materiali n a way that you can regurgitateit to someonee lsea ndh elp them understandA. nd if you cant eacht hem,t heny ou will know it like the back of your hand. Well, I don't really know the back of my hand but that is an old saying! RH: I knew exactly what you meant. Did you have anything that you wanted to add? 32 HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 32 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives JC: No, just for all young people that may watch this, you know, medicine is certainly a wonderful field. There are challengesth ere but there are going to be challengesin anything that you do. And so, if you want a career that is going to provide for you, I think emotionally,p rofessionallyf,i nancially,I think medicinei s certainlys omethingto think about. Somep eoplea reb lessedy, ou know, andt hey haveb eautifulv oicesa ndt hey area thleticallyi nclineda nd so they areg oingt o havea careero utsideo f what the regular average Joe of us will have. But if you are just a smart person and you love people, becauseI still think, for the most part in medicine,y ou havet o sort of love people. . . there are fields where you never really have to deal with a real person and those are there,t oo, for the more cerebral physicians,I think, but medicinei s a greatf ield and I think that your family would be excited, especially if you do not have any other physicians- your family would alwaysb e proud that you are the first and they will be ablet o say" my son," "my daughter,""m y niece,"" my nephew"is a physician. RH: All right. Well, thanky ou so much. I appreciateit . J J HHA# 00636 Interviwee: Colman, June Interview Date:September 24, 2007 Page 33 of 33 University of Houston Houston History Archives