Winning Essay by Cameron B. from Arkansas
I feel privileged to write about Dr. Samuel L. Kountz for a number of reasons.  First, I’m proud to honor a renowned African American scientist and surgeon from a small farm area in the poorest region of Arkansas, named Lexa which is where my mother was borne.  Secondly I admire his drive and dedication and despite the uphill battles he faced he never gave up.  He was denied admission to the Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College of Arkansas, AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and was also rejected to attend medical school by the University of Arkansas.  But he rose above all odds to become an international leader in transplant surgery and performed the first ever successful Kidney transplant between humans who were not identical twins.  I am inspired by his life, tenacity and accomplishments.
Dr. Kountz was the oldest son of a Baptist preacher and became interested in medicine when he was just eight years old.  Early in his life he thought he might follow in his father’s footsteps and become a minister.  He spent 3 years at a Baptist boarding school for young African American considering the ministry.  From there he later graduated from Morris Booker College High School in Dermott, Arkansas.  He was a very disciplined and determined student but unfortunately the school’s academic program was inadequate and he had to take remedial classes before being admitted into AM&N College.  There he achieved the unimaginable by graduating third in his class.
After graduation he applied for admittance to the University of Arkansas medical school but was rejected.  Disappointed but still determined, he spent the next two years at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville campus completing a master’s degree in Chemistry.  There he met Senator J. W. Fulbright who advised him to apply for a scholarship to medical school.  He competed and was awarded a full medical scholarship, and in 1954 he became the first African American student to be admitted to the University of Arkansas Medical School at Little Rock.
He spent a year as an intern and then started his training at the Stanford University School of Medicine in surgical training where he became interested in organ transplant.  He was still a resident when he made medical history by performing the first kidney transplant between humans that were not identical twins.  Organ donation became his passion, as a result of performing a kidney transplant on live television; he inspired over 20,000 people to become kidney donors.  When he died in 1981, he himself had performed over 500 kidney transplants.
Because of my personal admiration for Dr. Kountz and my roots in the Delta, I plan to follow his example.  I have been accepted to attend the University of Arkansas Fayetteville this fall and plan to major in pre-med.  Afterward I plan to attend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and go back to Lexa to improve medical care for rural communities there.

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