A suc­cess story, sprung from So. Md.

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

This is one of those “lo­cal kid makes good” mo­ments that all of Southern Mary­land can em­brace.

Dr. Jerome Adams, a 1992 grad­u­ate of Chop­ti­con High School who grew up in the Me­chan­icsville area, has been con­firmed as the new sur­geon gen­eral of the United States. He was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent Trump on June 29 to be­come the na­tion’s top doc­tor. And while the wheels of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment of­ten turn slowly, Adams’ con­fir­ma­tion was rel­a­tively swift. He sat be­fore the U.S. Se­nate’s Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee last Tues­day, then had his nom­i­na­tion con­firmed by the full Se­nate on Thurs­day.

Adams will now be sworn in as the 20th sur­geon gen­eral in U.S. his­tory. And he’s one of ours.

Adams, 42, is a physi­cian spe­cial­iz­ing in anes­the­si­ol­ogy, most re­cently liv­ing in In­di­ana. He was ap­pointed by then-gover­nor Mike Pence in 2014 as In­di­ana’s state health com­mis­sioner. In January, he was reap­pointed by In­di­ana Gov. Eric Hol­comb to the same po­si­tion. Of course, that connection with the cur­rent vice pres­i­dent — and Adams’ stel­lar per­for­mance lead­ing In­di­ana’s ef­forts to bat­tle a huge HIV out­break in that state re­lated to in­jected drug use — got the at­ten­tion of the White House, so Adams’ nom­i­na­tion was se­cure.

So what ex­actly does the sur­geon gen­eral do? Ev­ery­body has seen warn­ings from the fed­eral agency on the side of a pack of cig­a­rettes, but what are the func­tions of the of­fice? Think of the po­si­tion as the chief health of­fi­cer for the na­tion. Adams is now the head of the U.S. Pub­lic Health Ser­vice Com­mis­sioned Corps. This makes him the lead­ing spokesper­son on all mat­ters of pub­lic health in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Adams was born in New Jer­sey while his fa­ther was in the military, but the fam­ily was back in St. Mary’s by 1979. Adams at­tended White Marsh El­e­men­tary School and Mar­garet Brent Mid­dle School be­fore head­ing to Chop­ti­con.

While a child, some health prob­lems may have tilted him to­ward a ca­reer in medicine. Di­ag­nosed with asthma, and be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized 22 times dur­ing one year, young Jerome saw other chil­dren suf­fer­ing. His fa­ther said that seemed to in­spire him to im­prove the world around him.

Adams fin­ished in the top 5 per­cent of his class at Chop­ti­con. He was voted most likely to suc­ceed by his class­mates — and even sang a song at com­mence­ment. Thanks in part to a schol­ar­ship aimed at mi­nor­ity stu­dents in­ter­ested in the sciences, he earned bach­e­lor’s de­grees in both bio­chem­istry and biopsy­chol­ogy from the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County. Dur­ing his un­der­grad­u­ate days, he also stud­ied in the Nether­lands and in Zim­babwe. In the African na­tion, he par­tic­i­pated in re­search projects, in­clud­ing one on the Ebola virus. He got his master’s de­gree in pub­lic health at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, then com­pleted his res­i­dency at In­di­ana Univer­sity’s School of Medicine.

He was poised for suc­cess in the pri­vate sec­tor, and now be­gins a four-year term as the na­tion’s chief doc­tor.

“This set a very nice ex­am­ple for the county, black and white, to see some­one from here, who went to pub­lic schools in the county, to be se­lected for such a high of­fice in the gov­ern­ment,” the new sur­geon gen­eral’s un­cle, Rod Adams, said af­ter the ini­tial nom­i­na­tion. “This young man has made the county proud.”

Un­ques­tion­ably. And here’s hop­ing that Southern Mary­land will see plenty of Dr. Jerome Adams. His pro­fes­sional opin­ions will be in­valu­able to and wel­comed by pub­lic health of­fi­cials here, es­pe­cially as the fight against opi­oid mis­use con­tin­ues. And on a per­sonal level, his pres­ence will show young peo­ple that they can go as far as their dreams can carry them.

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