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Posted: May 14, 2014

TCOM heralds first African American parent-child legacy


Jessica and Dralves EdwardsDralves Edwards, DO, was the first African American on the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine campus. And now he and his daughter, Jessica I. Edwards-Shepherd, MS, are TCOM's first African American parent-child legacy.

She graduates Friday as part of the Class of 2014, then sets out for Christ Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., where she will begin a residency in family medicine.

She plans to practice family medicine because she enjoys treating a variety of needs in patients of all ages.

"It's a shame families have to ‘fire' their pediatrician when their child is past age 18 or 21," she said.

Her dad practiced family medicine for 21 years and now is site medical director of emergency medicine at University General Hospital in Dallas.

He was a pre-med major at North Texas State University (now UNT) in the early 1970s. "The first TCOM class was taking biology courses in the same building. I met DOs and liked the philosophy," he recalled.

He played football at UNT and had a short stint with the St. Louis Cardinals. He completed coursework at Prairie View A&M for a master of science degree and was admitted to TCOM in 1976.

Was it difficult being the first African American? "After playing football, you kind of can handle anything," he said. "I wanted to serve. The atmosphere didn't bother me at all, but everyone needs cultural support, and the next year a Prairie View friend joined me at TCOM.

"I'm still friends with TCOM classmates. The DO profession is special that way."

His daughter earned her master of science degree from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2010.

"Diversifying the face of medicine is my personal mission," Edwards-Shepherd said. "I would like to work where I have role models in bringing diversity."

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