The write medicine
Dr Oneeka Williams is a renowned surgeon in the United States who is promoting a love for science and medicine in young children through the characters in her newly published children’s book Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission To Pluto.
She has managed to successfully marry science and writing and argues the two are not mutually exclusive.
“For me, inasmuch as medicine is a science it is also an art,” the Guyanese-born doctor and author said in a recent interview in the United States.
“I love the privilege of being invited into people’s lives, to be able to help them and bring them into better health but at the same time we are not looking at just a physical entity. We are looking at a whole person. There are so many other characteristics about what people experience that require compassion . . . an artistic type of connection and so I have found that to be very, very critical in my profession,” Oneeka said.
Her early education was at St Gabriel’s Kindergarten School and Rose’s High School in Guyana up to second form. But Barbados also lays some claim. She and her twin brother Hubert Jr and younger brother Brynmore relocated to Barbados with their parents, noted Caribbean journalist Hubert Williams and science teacher Eugenie Williams, when Oneeka was just ten.
She and Hubert Jr went to Christ Church Girls’ and Boys’ Foundation Schools respectively and she continued to excel in all spheres just as she had done in Guyana. She made history, becoming the first ever girl to be admitted to the upper school of Boys’ Foundation School. The move was necessary because the Girls’ School’s curriculum did not include physics, essential for this student who had set her sights on a medical career from as early as age 12.
The Williams twins also made history as the first twin head girl and head boy of the two schools, and they topped Barbadian students in the GCE examinations.
Oneeka was the most outstanding among candidates interviewed for a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University but missed out through being the youngest from Barbados.
Instead she went to Johns Hopkins University, where she again made history as the first black woman to have earned a degree in biophysics in the long history of that renowned institution. From there she went on to Harvard Medical School, earning both the medical doctor and Master’s in public health degrees. Next she moved on to the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Lahey Clinic, which is among the world’s highest regarded institutions in urologic surgery.
Oneeka now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband Dr Charles Leon Anderson Jr, a neonatalist, hospital management specialist and corporate executive, and their son Mark.
She conducts a very busy practice at St Elizabeth Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, and is an assistant clinical professor of urology at Tufts University School of Medicine. Each year for the past three years she has been included in an official classification among America’s Top Doctors and her peers now rate her among the top urologic surgeons in the United States while her patients speak of her compassion and skill.
Passionate about community health and community service, she is a frequent speaker about prostate cancer and cardiovascular health; an organizer of community health fairs and screenings; co-chairperson of the Health Ministry of the historic Myrtle Baptist Church in Newton, Massachusetts; has leaderships in the local chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and has been serving and advising young girls for many years through the Science Club for Girls.
Speaking as an author, she says, “If you are able to connect to your artistic side, it brings even into science the creativity that is the foundation of innovation. You have to be true to that creative side in order even to be a good scientist.”
People have asked whether the main character in Dr Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission To Pluto is in fact her alter ego.
“Am I like her?” She asks instead.
“I think Dr Dee Dee Dynamo is so much bigger than me . . . . There are so many parts of myself that I have absolutely brought to the character. But she has grown into this thing that really represents not only powerful, women, powerful people who are doing amazing things . . . . She has transcended and gone beyond who I am.”
The book, which was published in February, is intended for children ages six to ten and Oneeka explains its mission is to connect entertainment with education.