Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Education: Applying to Medical School

BOND: Now, why did you pick the University of Virginia to go to medical school? Because it was home — a home state school?

PINN: Well, my mother did die. I stayed with her until that February, I took a leave of absence from school. And we were a very close family. I don’t have any sisters or brothers. My mother and father both came from very large families so very much into family relationships and family nurturing, but I had no sisters or brothers myself. And my mother’s death really hit both my father and myself very hard. And I wanted to come back to be close to my father, so that’s why I applied to the University of Virginia. I knew a little bit about the University of Virginia but I knew about the University as a segregated facility. My grandfather had been a patient there when I was in elementary school, but on the segregated wards and I can still in my mind visualize the black ward at the University of Virginia at the old hospital but I knew it was good. It represented a place that for those of us in that area if you wanted to get good medical care you hoped that you’d get to go to U. Va., so I had seen that in my mind and I knew it was a great institution and it would be close to home so I applied and, by that time, I had had the experience of being in Boston.

I had had the experience of knowing what was happening in Virginia because that’s when integration was beginning to take place. It still was not completely in place by the time I went back to medical school, but it was beginning to take place and I had been through and seen the turmoil and the experience some of the — some really rather nasty incidents in Boston of being black in the community there. So I applied, but I wasn’t at all sure I’d get in.

Didn’t really worry again so much about being a woman because Wellesley had put that confidence in me and I could struggle. I got through Wellesley, and I had been working in a research position at Harvard Medical School so I’d been around the guys, so the guys didn’t intimidate me so much because I had been there, had gotten to know them, and realized they were just like everybody else and so I applied, not sure what would happen and I got accepted.