Anthony Blackburn’s success story began in orphanages and foster care, yet he is on the path to becoming a doctor. SRJC has had an important part in his journey since he was very young.
At just one year old, Anthony was placed into foster care and stayed in the system for six years until he met his new family. When he was adopted by Brian Blackburn, SRJC Math instructor, and his wife, it was like a match made in heaven. Anthony says about his parents, “They are everything for me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. They’ve had a fantastic influence on my life.”
In high school, Anthony wasn’t quite motivated for studying and didn’t know what he might want to do as an adult. But as an SRJC college student, new doors opened for him. Instructors like Robin Fautley and Galen George taught biology and chemistry classes that inspired him. Anthony got involved in the late Nick Anast’s mouse genotyping research project, which was his first experience with actual research. This led him to dream of a career in science.
While planning to transfer, at first, he considered the traditional routes for California community college students who transfer to UC or CSU programs. Then, on a suggestion from his good friend Duc Pham, who was attending Cornell University in New York, Anthony applied to the prestigious institution. The Ivy League university welcomed him and covered his tuition, so took the risk to go outside California and enrolled in the renowned Nutritional Sciences program at Cornell. He graduated in May 2015.
Volunteering has been an important part of Anthony’s life. At Cornell, Anthony volunteered at a soup kitchen, and then took his humanitarian work even further with a six-week service job in Tanzania, Africa, as part of a medical team that helped locals. He raised $800 to purchase basic health and care products that wouldn’t normally be available to people in underdeveloped parts of the world; he brought the supplies with him. The job was an eye-opening experience for Anthony, who had the chance to work with members of the Maasai and Chagga local tribes and learn a bit of the Swahili language. He also spent ten days climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
Back in Santa Rosa, today Anthony is working at Kaiser Permanente, interning at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and applying to California medical schools. Drawing his inspiration from SRJC instructors, he’s seeking a career in medicine, so he can continue helping people.