African Americans are making advancements in medicine

WHTM Staff - HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) - Dr. Leslie Walker Harding is one of the top physicians at Penn State Health. She serves as chair of the Department of Pediatrics and medical director of Penn State Children's Hospital.

Her journey to the top was not easy.

"It is really hard to be in a scenario to be really swimming in water where people look at you and assume that you can't do it," Harding said. "They assume that you are going to need help. They assume that you just are no good because they see the color of your skin."

Harding graduated from the University of Illinois School of Medicine in 1990. Her time there was difficult at times and she often had to prove her worth to other students who didn't think she was qualified to be there.

"Sometimes people thought the minorities were getting different tests, that we were getting easier tests, so we had to go through a bit, trying to get our peers to understand we are doing, and yes, we are doing it well," she said.

She earned her medical degree only to be challenged once again by some patients and other doctors, especially when she started taking leadership roles.

"So, just getting into the room isn't enough, being able to learn how to speak up and help change happen in that room, I think really is the trick," she said.

Through it all, her focus has been on kids. While many run away from teenagers, she can't get enough of them.

She also pays it forward to others who see her as a role model.

"That my wealth, to know that I made a difference with somebody and helped get them to where they want to go," Harding said.

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