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Girl's Day kicks off at Milwaukee City Hall: Encouraging public service careers

By Ubah Ali,


March is Woman's History Month, and Thursday was the 13th annual Girls' Day at Milwaukee City Hall.

The event is all about exposing girls to possible careers in public service through panel discussions with local leaders.

"We do this to inspire the young women," said Alderwoman Milele Coggs, founder of Girls' Day.

13 years ago, Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs was the only woman serving on the Common Council and she wanted to change that. After some thought and input from friends, she founded Girls' Day at City Hall.

Speakers like Senator Lena Taylor and Judge Valarie Hill shared words of encouragement and why they chose a career of service.

"Hopefully today they've seen themselves in some of the women," Coggs said.

Terri Alise Mims is a senior at Milwaukee Lutheran High School. She's been attending the event for years because it exposes her to new opportunities.

"It's introduced me to so many different career paths and so many different people," Mims smiled. "Girls need to feel that they can take charge of communities and change the world."

Change the world and consider public service careers.

"My hope is that one day I'll see one of the young ladies that came through the doors of city hall, serving as an alderwoman," Coggs said.

Alderwoman Coggs said she'll be hosting this event every year until she is no longer in office.

Highlighting Women of Color working in Wisconsin healthcare

By Symone Woolridge, March 23

Highlighting women of color in healthcare

MILWAUKEE — With an office full of awards, Family Nurse Practitioner Dr. Rosalyn McFarland is quite the achiever.

"This is my Black excellence award," Dr. McFarland said while showing us around her office.

She's been serving patients for over 15 years and within the last few years, opened her own medical clinic in Brown Deer.

"I take it as an honor to be able to treat people," she says.

From newborns to adults of all ages, to veteran disability and truck driver exams, Dr. McFarland saw a need in the community.

"I have gotten this. Patients say I (they were) was looking for an African American provider. I've gotten that many times actually."

She sees patients from all walks of life, but through her own experiences she can relate to many who walk through the clinic door.

"I have a couple of things against me, being African American, being a female and I'm also short stature. Those three things were really against me."

Little did she know those things would become her superpower. She has become "the first" many times in her career.

"When I started out in nursing, especially in the E.R., I actually was the only African American working in the E.R. from first, second and third shift."

After research, statics revealed this isn't uncommon.

Dr. Aronica Williams is a Family Physician and the Chief Medical Officer at Milwaukee Health Services.

She said she believes Milwaukee Health Services is the most diverse practice in the state of Wisconsin.

From men to women of all ages, there is no shortage of diversity in the building where she serves, but she can relate to many of them.

"I've often been the only face that looks like me," Dr. Williams said. "The percentage of African American physicians or even American descendants of slavery, physicians-- it's in the single digits and the needle is not necessarily moving."

The numbers show that. White and Asian physicians make up the majority of the healthcare field, leaving Black and Hispanic physicians far behind.

According to a 2022 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, 63.9 percent of physicians are White, 20.6 percent are Asian, 6.9 percent are Hispanic, and 5.7 percent are Black.

Meanwhile, there is a slight trend in women becoming doctors. The number has been on a steady increase since 2008.

"It's the lifting as we climb, right? So the things that I go through, my son hopefully doesn't have to go through," Dr. Williams said.

As a mother of two, she finds herself in a unique place.

In many activities she has participated in, she said she's been the minority. She has always loved music, so her parents gave her the opportunity to play instruments and perform, leading to her becoming a classically trained violinist and pianist. Dr. Williams is also a competitive swimmer.

"As a classically trained musician in several symphonies, I went to a predominately white university. There are not a lot of classically trained violinists that look like me, right? And there are even less that are good that look like me."

Like Nurse Practioner Mcfarland, Dr. Williams follows the sacrifices of other Black women in healthcare by honoring the legacy that came before her and creating paths for those next in line.

"Yes, you get used to being the only face in the room, but the hope is that you won't always be the only face in the room because you've done the work to create the space for the ones that want to come behind you," Dr. Williams said.

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