In my senior year as a chemistry major I had decided that I would volunteer at the Center for sickle cell disease at Howard University. I had put off for many weeks the fulfillment of my intentions. Finally one Friday I felt compelled that I was not going to end the week without signing up to donate my meager skills to the fight to end the suffering from sickle cell disease. That Friday I met Mrs. Vera Ball. She directed me to a man who would become my supervisor in my volunteer work, who would later become my boss after hiring me to work in the laboratory and ultimately Dr. William Winter would become my mentor and director of my biomedical studies in the department of genetics and human genetics in the graduate school of arts and sciences at Howard University.
When I was a young researcher at Howard University I relied on grant funding to pay my salary which allowed me to continue my bio-medical academic work as well as to continue my research projects at the Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Disease.
Perhaps more then my research advisers and graduate professors and mentors it was the watchful eye of Mrs. Vera Ball, secretary to the director and administrator, that kept me on the payroll over my nearly 2 decades of work and sickle cell disease.
Whenever that was the end of one Grant in the beginning of another she would find a way to keep me on the payroll, to keep my health insurance benefits and to help me keep body and soul together and to take care of my family.
She served as the secretary to Dr. Roland Scott, the founder of the Center for Sickle Cell Disease, and for every director subsequent to him. I sincerely believe she was discriminated against from becoming a chief administrator or grant administrator because of gender discrimination. Notwithstanding, she continue to serve through the good times and hard times to keep the Center for Sickle Cell Disease operating.
I do my best to call her every year on her birthday to thank her for her stewardship over my career. I called her today April 26, 2016 and she remarked that she really looks forward to my phone call. This year will be her last year at the Center for sickle cell disease at which time she will retire.
It is a reminder to me that no one makes it through life solely on their own. An individual’s achievements are always supported by guardian angels that support, protect and make a way out of no way and asking for nothing in return. I will always owe a great debt to Mrs. Ball for looking out for me at every chance. May God bless her with the best in this life and the best in the hereafter.