C. Everett 'Chic' Koop became U.S. Surgeon General under President Reagan. He was a world renowned pediatric surgeon who had a tumultuous Senate confirmation process due to partisanship. Chic took office in January 1982, a time of 'tobacco wars' and a new and evolving terrifying disease that we ultimately came to know as AIDS.
I got into medical school at the University of California in San Francisco and did well. A lot of smart kids in medical school, and believe me, I wasn't not nearly the smartest one, but I was the most focused and the happiest kid in medical school. In 1979, I graduated as the valedictorian and was honored with the Gold Cane Award.
In 1967, I signed up for the Army, where I earned an equivalency diploma, then went on to join the Special Forces. That was really was the turning point in my life. I became more disciplined and focused. I went overseas and was in combat, got wounded a couple of times, lost a lot of good friends but matured a great deal.
I grew up in Harlem. My grandmother was one of the best cooks around, but the first thing she did on Sunday mornings when she started cooking a daylong meal was to take a big block of lard from the back of the refrigerator and throw it into the pan. I know how Hispanics buy their food, and it is not always nutritious.