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Reifying "The Dream" of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University  

Martin Luther King Jr. As the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination nears, the new Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University reminds us of the importance of "true education."

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University has personified Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream in the curriculum and culture of their institution. With the implementation of the innovative Human Dimension Course, all students will be immersed into New Jersey neighborhoods to understand the critical role of the community in relation to health, treatment, and medical training.

In addition to the programmatic structure, the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University aims to foster an environment of empathy, equality, and equity by developing a culture of inclusivity. The School of Medicine actively works to transform the culture of health by attracting some of the most intelligent leaders in medicine that embrace diversity and cultural humility. Meet some of our staff, administration, and faculty members as they reflect on their  #MountainTopMoments and share what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy means to them:

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity," spoke Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. decades ago, but these words cannot be truer than they are at this time. The transformative nature of my recovery from a serious car accident catapulted me into a life of service, scholarship, and leadership. I learned firsthand the scarcity of healthcare professionals and facilities in poor rural towns and how difficult it can be to receive the care so many often go without. Searching for a provider that understood my needs and condition, undergoing several procedures, and learning how to walk again, fed my insatiable urge to do more and fostered my passion of serving the underserved and underprivileged.

"I hope that the smile I wear or work I do within the Human Dimension Course, helps someone, whether directly or indirectly." 

— Michel’le J. Bryant, M.P.A., Human Dimension Course Coordinator

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" King once said to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957. And I am very proud to say that the Vision and Mission of our School of Medicine exhorts our students, graduates, faculty, and staff to strive toward that goal as well. As we describe the Human Dimension Course, for example, "Students will come to understand the role of community and context in health and wellbeing, as well as the role of the physician in all elements that contribute to promoting health and preventing disease." 

— John Schiavone, Associate Dean of Finance and Operations

"I was in the 4th grade when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I remember lots of conversation at home about his life and legacy, focused on the Freedom marches and civil disobedience. It was much later when I learned that a major focus of his protests was directed healthcare, which makes perfect sense. His famous quote, "of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhuman" is a rallying cry to the purpose of our Office of Diversity and Equity in Medicine." #MountaintopMoment

— David S. Kountz, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., Associate Dean of Diversity and Equity

"I was a junior in high school on this upcoming day 50 years ago. It was one of the three most transformative days in my life, the other two being the day President Kennedy was murdered and 9/11. The intensity of Dr. King's assassination was overwhelming and unfathomable at that moment; little could I have imagined that with the passage of years I and the rest of the world would realize that as enormous as his absence already felt, in reality it was so much greater. How different our nation would now be if we had been able to benefit from his continued, living presence for many more decades."

— Bonita Stanton, M.D., Founding Dean

"Reflecting on Dr. King's life, I am humbled by his ability to speak out against the unjust in our world, and stand up for equality and opportunities for all. I am so proud of all the young people who are standing up for what they believe in, as he did in his life. He has inspired us to know the value of each individual and to fight for the freedom for each individual to have a voice. For those of us in the medical field, he has inspired us to promote the best possible medical care for everyone no matter what their circumstances are." 

— Vicki Coffin, Ph.D., Faculty

"Dr. King's courage and grace as he fought to overcome injustice is awe-inspiring. Though I was not alive during his lifetime, his words and actions have inspired me since I was a little child. I remember first hearing his "I have a Dream Speech" in first grade, and getting shivers down my spine. I get that same emotion when I hear it today. His thoughts on healthcare inequality hold as true today as they did 50 years ago; in 1966, Dr. King is quoted as having said "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death. I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation." As I reflect on Dr. King and his legacy, I recognize that his work is far from over, and that it is incumbent on us to continue his fight to end injustice and inequality." 

— Christopher P Duffy, Associate Dean and Founding Director Health Sciences Library and Information Commons

"The subject of Dr. King, I'm sure invokes many different meanings to people from all walks of life. There are a myriad of speeches, and many moments one could reference. For me there are two elements to Dr. King that stand out and I believe influence me to this day. Dr. King’s 1967 "Street Sweeper" speech is one of them where he says "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." This speech speaks to striving to be the best, period. Not the best for a kid, or the best for woman, but the best period, so that nobody can deny your efforts and accomplishments. In the speech he calls this the length of life, as you strive to be the best, but goes on to say this is not enough. He speaks to the breadth of life as well and defines it as the outward concern for the welfare of others, putting the concerns of humanity above your own. This is the essence of the new Medical School we are creating."  

— Ron Silvis, Ed. D., Phase 1 Director

Established in 1970, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program is the oldest and most prestigious servant leadership program at Seton Hall University and is one of the earliest such programs in the United States.

Categories: Health and Medicine

For more information, please contact:

  • Asia McCleary-Gaddy
  • (646) 327-8583
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