It’s time to get to know one of our co-hosts a little better. In this episode of Off the Charts, we talk with our co-host, Dr. Steven Jackson. He’s the medical director of patient experience and a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician. Today, we talk with him about growing up in Chicago and his personal experience with racism.

He talks with us about growing up in the South Side of Chicago, when he decided to be a doctor and his personal experience with racism. Listen to the episode or read the transcript.

Growing up in Chicago

Dr. Jackson grew up in the inner city of the South Side of Chicago with his mother. Though it was just the two of them, he had several cousins nearby, so he never felt lonely. His mom raised him with the philosophy of “always do your best,” and he took that to heart. Even if his best was a C+, what mattered was that he had given it his all.

School days and choosing to become a doctor

Through elementary school, Dr. Jackson attended the same neighborhood public school that his cousins did. But once he was in the fifth grade, his mom transferred him to a math and science academy. It was here that his mom learned about the opportunity to send Dr. Jackson to boarding school for high school.

In addition to several opportunities, this gave Dr. Jackson a perspective of the world beyond Chicago. It also offered rigorous academics that set him up for his future in medicine.

There wasn’t a standout moment where Dr. Jackson remembers knowing he wanted to be a doctor. Instead, there were a series of small moments that led him to his future career.

This includes coming to work with his mom at her job as a health unit coordinator at a hospital. He watched her talk with everyone she passed while walking through the hospital and wanted to do something where he could also build connections. He pursued medicine from a young age, hoping to build community and help people.

Dr. Jackson’s work with diversity, equity and inclusion

His work led him here to HealthPartners where he works in diversity, equity and inclusion alongside his role as a PM&R doctor. He wants to use this work to help people succeed despite discrimination that they face throughout their lives.

Dr. Jackson’s experience with racism started early. His first memory of racism happened when he was just a kid. Listen to the episode to hear the full story and learn more about Dr. Jackson.