A new speaker series in Riverhead School District, organized by Bubbie Brown – a Riverhead High School alum who remains active in the community – kicked off recently at Phillips Avenue Elementary School, using real-life examples in the Riverhead community to show why kids shouldn't give up on their dreams.
Dubbed the "Community Role Models" speakers series, first on the list early last week was Dr. Marilyn McLaughlin, who came to Riverhead by way of Montego Bay, Jamaica; Stony Brook; Manhattan; and later New Jersey.
Currently, McLaughlin runs her own oncology and hematology practice in Riverhead, which specializes in cancer medicine and blood disease. But it wasn't easy getting there, she told the students.
"I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a physician, but at 13 I moved to the United States and had many challenges to overcome to make my dream a reality," she said.
McLaughlin relayed stories of being bullied because of an accent, personal tragedies such as having her family's home burned down and being hit by a drunk driver – and that was after growing up in a home with no indoor plumbing.
"But I loved reading," she added. "And I worked hard in school. I'm here to share with you that you can overcome the obstacles in your life – never give up on yourself and do your very best."
Phillips Avenue Principal Deb Rogers, along with a handful of students, presented the theme of the talks prior to McLaughlin's presentation: "Good enough is not good enough - we need to strive to do our very best!"