Mentorship Matters - Interview with Bernard Burgesson (Part 2)

Q.      Did you have mentors along the way?  If so, can you briefly name and/or describe them?  If these role models were lacking, how important do you think they are in the life of a younger person?

A.      My parents will always be my primary mentors.  They have always been by my side and continually encourage and help me maintain my faith.  At Queen’s University, I was introduced to a Pharmacology professor (Dr. Mike Adams) who also happened to be an avid fan of the Queen’s basketball program. We grew closer and he began to challenge me to improve my academic standing. He offered me work during the summers in his research lab to surround me with diligent individuals who valued excellence in academics. He also encouraged and pushed me continually to take charge or my future and “write my own story”.

Selfless mentors like Dr. Adams don’t come along for everyone. In my opinion it is so important to form friendships and surround yourself with people who care about you and by nature push you to improve on yourself, daily.

Q.    How would you describe the importance of family to you, the opportunities you have been given, and what you have and/or will become?

A.  Family is very dear to me.  Each member plays a slightly different role in my progression as an individual. My father has always been the motivator.  I certainly take after him in terms of his ambition and drive for success. My mother has always been by my side encouraging and comforting me in difficult times. Also, knowing that my siblings look up to me inspires me to continue to ‘lead by example’.

Q.      In the context of ‘the power of mentorship’, is there anything else you’d like to tell young student-athletes who read this?

A.      I would strongly recommend reading about the lives and challenges faced by ultimate role models like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Romeo Dallaire. I admire their level of perseverance and find great motivation in the uplifting way in which they all dealt with great adversity.  

Q.      You are well on your way in medicine.  How realistic is a life in medicine for other young people, especially kids who identify as African-Nova Scotia and are growing up here, but for whom there are extremely few ‘relatable role models’ among the local physician community?

A.      A career in medicine as an African-Nova Scotian is very achievable.  It does require some ambition and a lot of hard work. More importantly, African-Nova Scotians in medicine ought to reach out into communities to inspire and mentor aspiring students/youth. This is the reason I am involved with UP and a other similar initiatives; I want the youth in our local communities to realize that a career in medicine is not improbable. In more practical sense, I can offer guidance/strategy in applying for scholarships and selecting courses to better position aspiring students in preparation for admission into medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy etc.

Quotes that inspire me daily… my current favourite is from Bishop TD Jakes: “Successful people follow their instincts beyond the emotions of their failure”.