By: Connie Klimek
Chemist, dancer, linguist and social advocate: that’s Te’Airra Spencer, a name who you may recognize as your future anesthesiologist. Spencer is a junior chemistry major and dance minor at IU South Bend, who aspires to become the representation that influenced her studies: a woman in STEM.
Spencer plans to continue her studies and attend medical school to become an anesthesiologist. Meharry Medical College, located in Tennessee, is a historically Black college or university, (HBCU) and Spencer’s number one choice for medical school. Spencer is motivated to attend a HBCU medical school as she wants to be seen for her strides in STEM rather than her race. “I don’t want to be identified as that Black woman; I’m Te’Airra,” Spencer said.
“It’s hard when a doctor tells you that they don’t know what’s wrong with you because they don’t have background in that area,” Spencer said, referencing a common skin condition that looks different on different skin tones.
Passionate about the racial bias statistically present in the treatment of Black patients within the medical field, Spencer wants to be the representation that is needed for change.
“African Americans have a higher mortality rate in hospitals than other races, due to the fact that they are often mistreated,” said Spencer. She feels that more Black doctors are necessary for patient safety, proper instruction and patient comfort and confidence.
In reference to Black History Month, Spencer said she is conflicted, as she enjoys celebrating Black excellence; however, Spencer commented on the increasing numbers of violence toward Black people during Black History Month, which counters the celebration of her community.
Notably, Spencer said, “How can you confine thousands of years of oppression to a month for a race of people?”
Spencer enjoys celebrating the Black and African American community through her passion for dance. The dance studio Spencer grew up studying at, Excel, created several pieces paying homage to Black History Month through contemporary dances and African dances.
While taking time off from her studies, Spencer loves cooking main courses while her sister, a perfect partner, bakes desserts. Spencer’s favorite dish is mostaccioli, while a family favorite is Spencer’s chicken and rice casserole.
Additionally, Spencer finds time to dance on the IU South Bend Tap and Kickline and is an active member of the Black Student Union and French Club.
Influenced by her athletic background, Spencer’s favorite part about IU South Bend is athletic events, especially men’s basketball games.
Spencer enjoys her community at IU South Bend, which is a wonderful stepping stone as she strides on to create inclusivity for others in the medical field, on the dance floor and through her travels.
To all aspiring women and Black students in STEM, Spencer shares, “You should be you unapologetically. Keep going. Don’t give up.”
Photo // Te’Airra Spencer