can’t impose our beliefs, even if they are based in science, on people without first sitting down with them and having a conversation with them, that’s the key, that’s the real key to success” in tackling health issues nationwide, he said.
Born in Orange, N.J., Jerome Adams is the second oldest of Richard and Edrena Adams’ four children. His family moved back to St. Mary’s County in 1979 after his father got out of the military. The Adamses live on a roughly 40-acre family property in Mechanicsville that was purchased by Richard Adams’ grandfather, Theodore Thomas, a century ago.
Jerome Adams went to White Marsh Elementary
School, Margaret Brent Middle School and then graduated in the top 5 percent of his class at Chopticon in 1992.
When he was in high school, he was a member of the school’s singing group the Peace Pipers for four years. He was class publicist for one year and the school’s field hockey team manager for three years. He also played football, baseball, indoor track and outdoor track. He was on the honor roll all four years and he graduated from high school with a number of awards and scholarships under his belt.
“He had a bubbling personality,” retired Chopticon teacher and coach Nancy Bottorf said. Bottorf coached the girls field hockey team when Adams was its team manager. “When you met him, he would boost you up if you were down.”
Describing Adams as
“very trustworthy,” Bottorf said whenever she asked him to do something, he not only did it, but also made sure it was done well.
“He stepped up to the plate,” she said. “He was a busy kid who happened to make good grades and managed to be likable.”
Bottorf also described her former student as a “neatnik” who was always “well dressed” and “well mannered.”
His father said that side of his son may have come from his paternal grandparents. His grandmother, Sarah Adams, used to iron her bedsheets and pillowcases.
“His grandmother used to say ‘you don’t have to have a penny in your pocket, but if you are clean and well dressed, people are more likely to accept you,’” Richard Adams said.
During Jerome Adams’ senior year at Chopticon,
the father and son would go to malls in Annapolis and Glen Burnie to shop for outfits beyond local items in the county.
“The other kids in school would bid on the outfit he had,” Richard Adams said. It wasn’t so much about making a profit, but more about allowing him to wear new outfits. “He set his own style and his own tone,” his father said. “Once you do that, people accept you and emulate what you do.”
As a member of the Peace Pipers, Adams sang “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” at his high school commencement along with three fellow graduates.
Steve Raley, who runs a car dealership in Waldorf, sang that song with Adams at the commencement. The singing group was a “close-knit family,” Raley said. He and Adams knew each other
since middle school and were good friends.
“Obviously, he was very studious from early in school,” Raley said. “Everybody knew he was going to do big things.”
As gifted as he is, Raley said Adams “was a normal kid.”
In order to not miss out on having fun with his friends, Richard Adams said his son would get up early before school to finish his homework between 5 and 6 a.m., even if he had hung out with friends the night before.
“He did the things other kids did,” Richard Adams said. “But he didn’t do it at the expense of his education.”
Coming from a family of hard workers, Richard Adams said his son “never developed a sense of entitlement.”
Trained as an anesthesiologist, Jerome Adams was nominated by President Donald Trump for surgeon general on June 29. Described as the nation’s doctor, the U.S. surgeon general oversees a group of thousands of health professionals to protect and advance the health of all Americans.
When Bottorf heard the news of Adams’ nomination, she said she was “speechless.” The fact that one of her former students made it to the level he did blew her mind. But “it all makes sense,” she said. “He’s someone who took the ball and kept going with it.”
Jerome Adams will not be doing interviews before he is sworn in, according to Evelyn Stauffer, press assistant at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His swearing-in date is yet to be determined.