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Meridian podiatrist: Country comes to town!

By Staff
Dr. Andrea Leigh White of Meridian is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Bobby L. Adams. She received her
undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and attended podiatry school in Chicago soon after she and her husband, Allen, married. She practices at the Foot Clinic of Meridian.
This story was submitted for The Meridian Star's recent special edition, "Profile 2004: Building Bridges," but did not run due to space limitations. This story and others like it will appear in the newspaper's upcoming daily
By Leigh White / special to The Star
March 3, 2004
I was asked by The Meridian Star to share some of my experiences from podiatry school and residency. Let's just say that those years were some of the best and some of the worst!
We left on a Saturday with great enthusiasm. My husband Allen and I had not yet celebrated our first anniversary when, along with my parents, we loaded up a U-Haul trailer and the back of a Nissan pick-up truck and drove up Interstate 57 to Chicago, Ill.
Talk about country comes to town!
The first order of business in a northern, urban city is to lose the Mississippi license plate (what we call a car tag). This is strictly for security purposes.
The first night in our spacious 640-square-foot apartment was very exciting. Our apartment was on the third floor, which was the same height as the subway. The Chicago "L" subway train tracks were located 100 feet away from us, and trains ran every 20 minutes, 21 hours a day.
But just in case you got used to the trains passing through (remember, we're from Meridian, we were used to trains), there were the gunshots to keep our heart rates up. Cabrini Green apartment complex, part of the Chicago Housing Authority, was a half-mile west of our apartment building. We counted 14 rounds of semi-automatic gunfire that first night!
My parents left the next day. Allen and I looked at each other, stepped out onto our balcony, and realized we did not know one other person in a city of more than 2 million people. Wow! What a great way to grow close to one another. I highly recommend all newlywed couples move away from their parents for at least a few years. It was the best thing we ever did for our marriage.
Nuggets of wisdom
We grabbed the Sunday copy of both newspapers and strategized which job openings Allen should pursue. We had made an earlier trip in April to look for a job, but were not able to find one. Monday morning, we headed out on foot with the classifieds in hand.
Allen was offered a position in the first interview. He accepted and stayed with that company the entire five years we were in Chicago. God was so good to us. He started work right away, and school at the Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine began for me the following week.
That pretty much sums up our first weekend in the big city, and my 500 words are about used up. I would like to share a few "nuggets" of wisdom from my experiences:
Don't … Wear one of your wedding shower dresses on the first day of school.
Do … wear blue jeans and a T-shirt.
Don't … volunteer for anything.
Do … make yourself available to other students and instructors.
Don't … run for class officer. It's too much extra work. Remember, you are in school. You have plenty of work.
Do … study hard and then play hard. Lots of sleep and exercise are a must.
Don't … get pregnant while in school. I was only the second woman to do so in the history of the college and it wasn't a good experience for either me or the school.
Do … have the baby during Christmas break and return to classes at the start of the spring semester (Alexandra is now 13).
Don't … make excuses, they are like noses, everybody has one.
Do … establish a network of friends outside the classroom. Finding a church home was very important to us, and we were blessed to be a part of two wonderful church families.
Don't … try to brown-nose your way through. Teachers, fellow students and anyone else with a half-lick of sense know what you're doing.
Do … be yourself. I learned right away that a Southern accent can charm a cat out of a tree. And "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" go a long way in covering up ignorance … but only for about a week.
Don't … borrow a lot of money. Just enough to get by. Remember, this has to be paid back with interest. The interest is not tax-deductible. Tuition is high at private institutions. My senior year tuition was $15,000 (multiply that by four and then figure in cost-of-living expenses). This is another reason not to have a baby while getting an education. Daycare, 13 years ago, was $500 per month. Rent was $1-$1.25 per square foot/month (one whole paycheck or 2 weeks worth of work).
And most important … be open to new experiences and people. You may be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.