Determination leads Blair into medicine
AMORY – Determination not to become a brick layer or field laborer led 1965 West Amory High School graduate Willie Blair to eventually end up in the medical field.
When Blair was growing up, he often could only go to school every other day. His mother worked and didn’t have a babysitter so he would have to stay at home with the younger children.
“People must have seen something in me because they did not abandon me,” said Blair, who has grown up to be a well-accomplished physician in Baltimore.
Blair said when he graduated, he didn’t read very well. He went on to attend Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena.
“My first year in college was brutal, but I knew I wasn’t going to pick cotton or lay bricks,” Blair said.
He was in a work study program while at MVSU.
He spent the summer of 1968 at Mississippi State University in a microbiology program through the National Science Foundation. Blair said MSU gave an academic scholarship and did more for the students. He was determined to earn the academic scholarship.
One Saturday night in the Delta, there was a dance and someone broke a window. Before they knew it, state troopers surrounded the building. Sixteen people at the dance were arrested and taken to jail where they were charged with malicious mischief and destroying state property.
“I was in jail by myself and got kicked out of college with no degree. I was going to Jackson where Charles Evers was, but didn’t know how to get there,” Blair said.
He said he didn’t know it, but he must have been followed because the car he was in was stopped, and the police said there was no trouble, but the president of MVSU had sent for him.
“I had been admitted to MSU medical school, but after my arrest the offer was rescinded,” Blair said.
After graduating from MVSU, Blair went to the University of Illinois-Champaign, where he received a master of science degree in 1971. From there, he went to Rush Medical College in Chicago and received his medical degree in three years.
Blair did his residency and internship at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and a traumatology fellowship at Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems Shock Trauma Center at University of Maryland Hospital, Baltimore.
“The first night I worked in trauma, there were five guys shot and one looked like one of my brothers. I decided to go into trauma to try and help the kids. Too many are being killed by bullets and drunk driving. It’s an epidemic we need to try and stop,” Blair said.
Blair is in private practice in Greenbelt, Md., and is also instructor of surgery at Georgetown University Hospital.
“I want to tell the youth of today to set your goals and dreams and never give up,” Blair said.
Blair went from smalltown Amory, barely able to read, to become one of the top trauma surgeons in the country. He has received many awards during his career. If he can do it, anyone can.
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About Alice Ortiz
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