I could have never predicted how opportunities in my life would evolve from the beginning to the end of my year as a Reynolds Fellow. Volunteer leadership roles came my way that truly changed the course of my life. A confident and inspiring new network of peers and visiting role models helped me to see risks as chances for growth that I might otherwise have missed. I started the year as a dental student with an interest in public health. By the end of it, I was a health care professional with a national network of likeminded change agents.
Months after starting my fellowship, I became a board member for a professional organization, the American Student Dental Association. Less than a year after my fellowship, I was elected National President of this 20,000-member organization. It was a riveting crash course in politics, organized health professions, ethics, and advocacy. I can thank Wayne and Catherine Reynolds, the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and the Harvard School of Public Health for giving me the courage to seek this outlet for the skills and vision I developed as a Reynolds Fellow.
Now, I am working as a dentist in a Midwestern children’s hospital, where I treat children from every walk of life in outpatient and operating room settings. By June 2015, I will be a certified pediatric dentist. My career will remain centered on advocating optimum health and education for all children, whether through direct care, research, association leadership or political action.
I am reinvigorated just by reading the profiles of my friends from our cohort, such as Dory Gannes, Andrew Goldstein, Ryan Shephard and Jamaal Barnes. Privileges such as this fellowship come with a huge responsibility to honor it with continued risk-taking and generosity in leadership. Many thanks to all the Reynolds Fellows for demonstrating that so boldly.
Colleen Greene meets U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, U.S. Rep of Wisconsin at his Capitol office
Colleen Greene (center) with U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona