When Amy Acton, M.D. (’90), visited NEOMED August 9, she did more than accept an honorary degree from the University’s Board of Trustees. She also spent time on a warm Zoom call to a crowd of more than 200 people, the majority of them students from the College of Medicine, who were eager to hear from the famous alumna.
At her sunny best, Dr. Acton spoke on a range of topics, including encouraging medicine students to take the leadership roles that will come naturally their way as they become physicians.
“Every day, I’m still receiving letters from people of all political persuasions, all ages [who] are looking for leaders who call them to something higher. They need someone to say, ‘Let’s take that energy and do something with it,’” Dr. Acton said.
Thank you’s flooded the Zoom chat box as Dr. Acton said goodbye to the students.
Asked afterward why Dr. Acton made an impact on them, two College of Medicine students reflected:
I am in love with Dr. Amy Acton's journey. She is an inspiration to girls and women who may have had to come from a rough background but still choose to persevere to prove themselves. I just appreciate that such a prominent leader sees kindness as a source of strength rather than weakness. I resonated with her message about practicing medicine using “HAIL.” I admire her strength and resilience to do what she thinks is right for her community and her people.
She is the type of person I aspire to be — a leader in medicine who chooses to practice with kindness and empathy.
—Harini Prabhakaran, College of Medicine Class of 2023
As a life-long Ohioan, having a well-informed and charismatic leader serve as the Director of the ODH was a blessing. I knew with our state in her hands, my family and I would be under the best protection amidst a global pandemic. When I found out she was an alumnus of Northeast Ohio Medical University, my stresses about beginning medical school subsided. I have always been inspired and touched by her ability to overcome adversity, speak her mind, and address conflict head-on. Even without acknowledging her selfless service, those qualities alone make Dr. Acton a role model for all current and future health care professionals. Watching her on TV and even conversing with her today, Dr. Acton easily comes across as empathetic and genuine: it’s easy to see that she has a smile that seems to wipe away all worries and the heart of a champion.
As a NEOMED student, I am so lucky to consider myself a colleague of hers, and am further inspired hearing her talk about HAIL (honesty, authenticity, integrity & love). She is an exemplar of those ideals, and seeing her today was a friendly reminder of why I’ve always wanted to pursue medicine. If I can even just slightly resemble her character, attitude and compassion, I have no doubt I’ll be a great physician who embodies NEOMED and conserves her dedication to serving Ohio and our country.
—Benjamin Arnold, College of Medicine Class of 2024