Passing It On

Written by: 
Amanda Yanowski
Jaqueline Brown
Jaqueline Brown ('70) (Courtesy of Dr. Jaqueline Brown)

Even though she entered North Texas as a music major and graduated with a degree in mathematics, Jaqueline Brown ('70) always knew she was on a path to a career in medicine.

Brown, who is now a Houston-based obstetrician-gynecologist, has established a scholarship at UNT to honor the teacher who encouraged her to follow her path to science.

Before finishing high school, Brown already had researched what it would take to get into medical school. After a counselor told her that well-rounded students often make more interesting candidates than pre-med majors, she decided to pursue a liberal arts undergraduate education. A lifelong love of music inspired her to choose that specific area as her major.

"I started playing piano at age 3 but definitely was not a prodigy," Brown says. "I guess I always had the desire to find out if I could be better."

She earned B's and C's during her first year at North Texas, and found it difficult to keep up with her fellow music majors. Brown didn't excel in the classroom until she enrolled in a class about the physics of music. While most of her peers struggled to pass the math-heavy required course, Brown earned an A.

"The class was taught by one of my only female instructors, Virginia Lea Rawlins," Brown says. "She told me I had a natural aptitude and encouraged my pursuit of a career in science, if not medicine, because we need women in the sciences."

Buoyed by her success in the class and Rawlins' encouragement, Brown shifted gears and graduated with a degree in mathematics. But, still committed to the liberal arts education that had drawn her to North Texas in the first place, she added minors in music and English to that degree. She credits much of her success as a doctor to that choice.

"Medicine is not an exact science -- it's more intuitive, more creative," she says. "You have to really look at the patients and work to understand them. My experience in the arts has helped me do that."

After completing her undergraduate degree at UNT, Brown graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a master's in public health and earned a doctorate at UT Southwestern. She went on to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology with the University of Pennsylvania Health System before founding Houston's Total Woman Healthcare clinic in 1990.

Brown has found great success and satisfaction as a woman practicing medicine. She has concerns, however, that young women often avoid studying science because they think the field is a man's domain or are unaware of the many opportunities available -- ones that did not exist when she was a student.

Looking for a way to help change that mentality and encourage students from all backgrounds to consider careers in the sciences, she recently established the Dr. Jaqueline Brown Endowed Scholarship in Biological Sciences at UNT. Brown says she has many fond memories of her time at UNT, but the support she received from Rawlins is what inspired her to give back.

"I felt gratified that she would take an interest in my desire to become a doctor," Brown says. "This scholarship is my way of passing it on."

Are you interested in helping UNT students who are pursuing careers in science? Make a gift to the College of Science.

Continue reading