From a valley farm to Washington D.C., Drake will address ASC fall graduates

(12-09-2009)

A very accomplished woman, Dr. Lynn Drake, received her medical degree and specialized in dermatology; was a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow; studied finance at the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program; worked alongside highest ranking members in the US Congress; and was named President of the American Academy of Dermatology. Yet, she is most proud of her parents, Lucille and Olen Drake, former Sargent farmers. "I really appreciate their strength of character, their generosity, the love and guidance they showed me, and for being wonderful citizens."

Drake will deliver the Fall 2009 Adams State College Commencement address. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, December 19, in Plachy Hall. Adams State will award 84 degrees, including 73 bachelor's degrees, 2 master's degrees, and 9 associate degrees. Starting in the fall 2009, Adams State College implemented the policy to hood master's degree candidates only during spring commencement ceremonies.

An accomplished public speaker, with a very impressive resume, including work with Senator Ted Kennedy and former Majority Leader Senator Robert "Bob" Dole, Drake said she is a little nervous about speaking before her hometown audience. "I want to make it right."

Drake earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Adams State College in 66 and 67. She continued with her education at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine, in Memphis; and in 2001 completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. Even to sum up her professional resume would take lengthy paragraphs. She credits "walking through doors of opportunity" to her variety of successful ventures. "God's hand was on my shoulder. I have had guidance from above and my mom and dad were so grounded and solid, I thought I could do anything."

Anything...just about, Drake is currently a lecturer in dermatology at Harvard Medical School, a member of the medical staff at Massachusetts General Hospital, and serves as Director of Government and Policy for the Wellman Center for Photomedicine. She is board certified in dermatology and dermatopathology; advised congressmen and presidential candidates and helped craft national and international health policy; has spoken before hundreds of medical organizations and given hundreds of media interviews, among them McNeil-Lehrer, CNN, ABC News, and 20/20. She has been a visiting professor at more than 60 universities, and received several named lectureships. She has authored more than 100 papers and been a reviewer or editorial board member of several prestigious medical journals.

Her drive and dedication is founded on "old-fashion values and morals and courage." She chose to major in mathematics as a freshman at Adams State because she "knew nothing about mathematics." Her decision to attend medical school was based on her family doctor's, Dr. Bill Bailey, suggestion. During her first year on the faculty at Emory University, she kept her next patient, the dean of the medical school, waiting. She apologized to the dean and said she had been waiting 45 minutes for the call-back to admit an elderly woman with a life-threatening disease. He suggested she apply for the Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship and work to change political policy in medicine. "I packed my bags and went to medical school. I packed my bags and went to Washington. I took the job at Harvard because I thought it seemed like a cool job and during a year sabbatical I attended the Harvard Business School because I was curious about how finance works."

She almost came home her first week of medical school in Memphis, Tenn. "I flunked my first test, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated and tanks rolled down the streets to break up riots plus a hunt for a mass murderer was being conducted. I would call my father and say 'I want to come home,' he would tell me, 'wait two more weeks.' That's how I got through that first year, two weeks at a time."

And as time passed, opportunities were presented and taken. Drake credits Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Dr. Palmer Smith as an Adams State mentor, who told her if she could successfully major in math she "could do medical school." Yet the former Sargent farmer, who drove a truck for hay-haulers by age eight, said she never thought herself exceptional. "I never thought I was smart. I was way too busy to think about being proud or smart."

Ann Rice, vice chair of the Adams State Board of Trustees, will convey the greetings from the board, while Olivia A. Martinez will deliver the 2009 class message. Dr. Christine Keitges, professor of music, will lead the singing of the Alma Mater. A reception sponsored by AS&F will follow the ceremony for graduates and their guests in the Plachy Hall Field House.

By Linda Relyea