Profiles in Progress: Mentoring

NBC 6 celebrates Black History Month by highlighting people and programs which improve our community.
NBC 6 celebrates Black History Month by highlighting people and programs which improve our community.
We introduce you to a pediatrician who makes a difference in her patients' lives, and in the lives of the young African-American students whom she mentors.
Meet Dr. Gretchen Petterway in this week's Profile in Progress.

As a child, Gretchen Petterway knew she was destined to be a doctor.

The path to fulfilling her destiny though, was filled with hardship.

Dr. Petterway now works in a beautiful office at CHRISTUS Pediatric Associates in Shreveport.
But she grew up in poverty in Mansfield, Louisiana, living with her grandparents, single mother and sister.
At one point, she was even abused.

"I had a stepfather who was on drugs and I remember just crawling out of a window one day trying to get away from him because he walked in high and said he was going to kill me and my mom and my sister," Dr. Petterway recalled.

She now has the support of her husband, children and church family.
However, as a young person, Gretchen found only a few people who believed she could fulfill her dream...

"My mom was a great motivator and God placed other people who were willing to help me get me to where I needed to come… and that was to become a doctor," Dr. Petterway said.

After dedicating her time to graduating from Grambling State University and LSU Medical School in Shreveport, Dr. Petterway now dedicates her life to giving back.

"I mentor young African-American kids who are interested in becoming doctors,” shared Dr. Petterway.  “They have the opportunity to come here and hang out with me at the clinic and see what we do."

She also mentors students she meets as the medical director for the school-based health centers in Caddo Parish.

"90% of those children are from underserved communities and it's really helpful for them to see someone who looks like them to give them some hope and motivation," Dr. Petterway added. "My message to them is this, there is no excuse.  If I faced the adversities that I faced and made it, you can too."

Dr. Petterway says where much is given, much is required and she encourages others to become mentors.
She's also learning that her mission to heal, doesn't stop at physical health. It also extends to healing the human spirit.

"Making sure that i tell my story so that kids can understand no matter how bad your current situation may be it doesn't matter.” Dr. Petterway said. “With a little hard work and determination and belief in prayer you can do it."

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