West Palm Beach ER doctor inspires girls at the Boys and Girls Club to dream big

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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Leia Salter, walked arm in arm with other girls, leaning on each other at the Florence De George Boys and Girls Club of West Palm Beach. The talk was all about a field trip into the field of medicine.

“I haven’t been to a hospital in awhile, because I haven’t really been sick lately,” said Salter.

A band of girls, all inspired, to think big.

“Everybody can do what they put their minds to, and they can be whatever they want to be,” she said.

Candace Burrs, the executive club director, said this mentorship program is about seeing yourself in someone else, somewhere else.

"I really just hope the girls see a little bit of themselves in the doctor,” she said. "See themselves in the space and know that they have a team, a support system, and they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.”

The group of about 15 girls visited Good Samaritan Medical Center to speak with a West Palm Beach emergency room physician and learned a much bigger lesson.

“I feel it’s a privilege and a duty to give back to the community where I came from, to inspire the youth to do what I did, to rise up through trials and tribulations with no means,” said Dr. Shanteria Dixon, the assistant medical director of the emergency department at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“I grew up here in West Palm Beach as the eighth child to a single mother who worked at times three to four jobs, so I didn’t have a lot growing up,” she said.

Dixon said she was hit by a drunk driver as a teenager, and that led to a love of medicine, volunteering at Good Samaritan and St. Mary’s, only to get hired there one day. Now she’s mentoring through the Boys and Girls Club.

“I want these girls to know that even though those barriers will probably always exist, we are probably always going to live in a country, where it is easier for individuals with privilege to survive and make it though college and medical school," she said. "It is not impossible for someone who came from nothing."

Dixon hopes the girls walk away learning this.

“I think I have adjusted my goal over the years,” she said. “Initially, I wanted to save the world and help everyone from this community have a better life, but I think at this point, being realistic, if even one or two girls are able to hear my story or see my path in life, to grow up in poverty and still make it, I think at the other end—that will be enough for me.”

The Florence De George Boys and Girls Club also said they are also doing career mentoring and exploration with the help of the national coalition of 100 black women of West Palm Beach.

Scripps Only Content 2023