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And Still I Rise 
Sharing A Message of Hope Through The Testimonies of Black Women

April 29, 2022

Inspired by the iconic poem of Maya Angelou, “And Still I Rise,” the Office of Diversity and Community Relations and PCOM South Georgia's Sistahs in Medicine hosted a panel of Black women experts in health care to share personal stories through their testimonies of encouragement, hope and perseverance.

Intentionally planned during National Diversity Month, student-doctor and moderator Jasmine Render (DO '24) started the discussion by reading Mrs. Angelou’s poem, (see below).

She said, “Black women, in particular, are often beaten down by a system that attempts to oppress them based not only on their race but their gender as well. It is inspiring to see women that are successful and thriving despite having the odds stacked against them.”

Render, who spearheaded the panel, shared her thoughts about its purpose. “It was my hope that members of the audience could hear the panelists' stories and think to themselves, ‘I may not look like that panelist, but if she could overcome her obstacles, so can I.’”

Stacie Fairley, PhD, PCOM South Georgia assistant professor of microbiology and immunologyThe speakers included Stacie Fairley, PhD, PCOM South Georgia assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, Jessica Brumfield Mitchum, DO, family medicine physician and Karla Booker, MD, urgent care physician.

During her post-doctoral education, Dr. Fairley said that she was ready to give up. Like many students, academia and the stress simply became too much. Her advice to PCOM students who may be feeling similar was this: “In the midst of your struggles, don’t be robbed of your hope and your passion.”

A family medicine practitioner and PCOM Georgia alumna, Dr. Brumfield-Mitchum shared an uphill battle that all medical students face—passing boards. While she succeeded in lectures and rotations, she struggled to pass her first board exam. After failing that exam twice, she took a break from rotations to study diligently—and she passed.

She encouraged the students to not let tests define them. While this experience delayed her graduation by one year, she says she wouldn't change a thing. She said, “When God has called you to do something, trust that it will happen in his timing.”

Dr. Booker is board-certified in OB/GYN and family medicine, but what many don’t see behind her title is the years of sacrifice and perseverance it took to receive it.

Dr. Booker was pregnant at the age of 19 and gave birth to her daughter at 20. She immediately began medical school while also being a first-time mom to a newborn. She said to attendees, “Don't ever count yourself out—ever. Women are the heart of the family, and they’re the heart of medicine, and they’re the heart of society. We’re the innovators.”

Render said, “There have been countless times in my life when I felt my voice didn't matter because I am a Black woman. I had the chance to put a spotlight on three amazing Black women and to reinforce that their stories do matter and allow them to impact the lives of people that look like them and people that do not.”

She added, “These women serve as a reminder to our community not to give up. We all face challenges in life that may seem too great to overcome, but there are people that came before us that overcame their obstacles and they are encouraging us to do the same.”

And Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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  • About PCOM South Georgia

    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019, has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit or call 229-668-3110.

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