BUFFALO, N.Y. — Karole Collier has a lot to celebrate this spring, including graduating from the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, matching with her dream school for her residency as a general surgeon, and launching her own apparel line.
As an African American woman in medicine who worked her way through med school, Collier is well aware of the obstacles women like her face to get into the field.
"There were plenty of moments where I didn’t think I was going to make it or I didn’t feel smart enough or didn’t think that I could get to the next point," she said, sipping on hot tea to ease her throat after celebrating "match day" and her birthday in the same weekend. An experience she described as "better than the NFL draft" and "the best weekend of [her] adult life."
That feeling of success is what inspired her to start "Twice As Hard Apparel," which offers a variety of clothing and mugs with sayings like “"NG GFTD BLK," "Raised A Doctor," and "#BelieveBlackWomen."
"I wanted something that was celebratory. I wanted something that was on its own, just creative energy, an outlet for there to be pride and rejoice in that struggle," said Collier.
She adds that achieving a degree in medicine is its own accomplishment, let alone during the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed to her the resiliency physicians of color should be celebrating.
Between clinicals, graduation, moving back to her hometown of Philadelphia for her residency, and her continued activism in racial equity, she laughs when asked how she does it all.
"Oh I don’t know...It all stems from the same passion. I’m very passionate for people to understand each other. I’m very passionate to build bridges to where I once came," said Collier.
Collier said she will continue to operate her apparel line even as she enters her residency and becomes a practicing general surgeon.
"It’s okay to love who you are. It’s okay for others to celebrate you, too," said Collier.