The late Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. understood the importance of leading by example. The former Alcorn State University president created the “Alcorn President Men’s Club” to mentor and inspire young men on campus to achieve their dreams. A young Freddie Kency Jr. ’07 was a member of the organization and experienced Bristow’s leadership and motivation.
“It was about the exposure,” said Kency. “That organization showed this little boy from West Jackson that Black men could really sit on the throne. Dr. Bristow didn’t have to educate, groom, or show us this standard, but he did. That experience lives on with me until this day.”
Applying the lessons, he learned from the organization has led now Dr. Kency on a successful and historic path as a physician. Kency was recently named the American Academy of Emergency Medicine’s (AAEM) first Black Young Physicians Section director during AAEM’s 27th annual Scientific Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri. Kency, a board-certified emergency medicine physician, is also one of AAEM’s 2021 Board of Directors.
Kency is a community emergency medicine physician at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. He is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). He also served as a physician for the U.S. Navy from 2011-2015.
The historical significance of Kency’s assignment speaks volumes. His unique experience as a Black man in medicine adds a perspective that’s usually missing. He’s happy to have a seat at the table.
“I’ve been in this organization for seven years. When I won, my first question was, ‘Am I the first African American to hold this title.’ We have a seat at the table now. I can bring thoughts, ideas, and fresh perspectives that have never been discussed before because I see things out of a lens that has never had a seat at this table in the past.”
Diverse leaders in the medical field are significant examples for aspiring minority physicians to witness. Kency’s achievement empowers him to bring along Black medical professionals as he climbs the ranks of his field.
“Knowing that young African American Emergency Room (ER) physicians will see me leading other young ER physicians is amazing. This achievement fits the theme of our 100 Black Men in Jackson organization, ‘What they see is what they’ll be.’ I knew if I ever wanted to see more people that looked like me in my field, I’d have to show them that it’s possible.”
Now, young minorities in medical schools and professions across Mississippi have an example to follow. Kency’s representation gives promise to more diverse leaders in medicine. It also opens the door for him to mentor, something that he’s been passionate about since his days in the U.S. Navy.
“Mentorship, especially in a community of minorities, is so important. When you see doctors on TV, and none look like you, you start to believe that that career isn’t ascertainable. Mentors build you up. They see the potential and have the expertise to pull that potential out of you. I want to see students with drive succeed. I want to see those with the toughest road cross the finish line because I know that mentoring changes lives. I’m a product of great mentors.”
Like Bristow did for Kency and his peers, he now hopes to give back his knowledge and motivation to the younger generation.
“My goal is to reach back if even to teach one. Dr. Bristow’s time on Earth was cut short while I was still on campus, but his lessons and discussions during his President Men’s Club meetings will live with me forever.”