(JACKSON, Miss.) — Statistically, there are approximately 3.1 percent black occupational therapists in the U.S., according to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s 2015 Salary & Workforce Survey.
Brandon Franklin, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, plans to change that soon.
On Saturday, May 8, 2021, Franklin graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in a ceremony held at Veterans Memorial Stadium. This summer, he is attending his dream school Louisiana State University to pursue a master’s in occupational therapy.
Initially, Franklin was denied admittance to LSU. Despite his disappointment, he emailed the admissions team thanking them for the consideration. Moments later Franklin was notified that there had been a clerical error resulting in his denial. And, in fact, he was at the top of the consideration list.
After completing a successful interview, two months later, Franklin received his acceptance.
“I’m most excited about being integrated into the new environment and being the first in my family to go to a school like LSU,” he said. “Being that I will be going to an institution with such a diverse group of students, I think I can adapt and be relatable.”
Franklin’s mother passed when he was younger, so he was raised by his grandmother. Through his childhood experiences, he realized his passion for wanting to pursue a career in medicine.
“The medical field has always been something I’ve been interested in. I wanted to branch out and get away from my sheltered ways due to my upbringing. My grandma wanted me to go to a community college first, but I wanted to jump out on faith,” Franklin stated.
The famous Jacksonian culture also impacted his decision when choosing “Thee I love.”
“When I was in the 11th and 12th grade and we had free time in class, I would just sit and watch the videos of the band marching in and I would be mesmerized. I knew I wanted to go to an HBCU and be surrounded by my people,” he shared.
Upon his arrival at JSU, Franklin originally intended to major in biology pre-physical therapy. However, when looking at the coursework he realized his current route is better suited for his passions. His desire is to make people’s lives as independent as they once were after a tragedy, for example.
At Jackson State, Franklin said he has had to practice endurance and patience. In the midst of the height of COVID, his grandmother passed away. He then had to face mourning his loss while applying for graduate school.
He credits his faith in God for getting past adversities, ultimately prevailing and getting into graduate school.
“I like to think of it as God telling me to test my faith. It’s funny how I took that opportunity and did a 180 and now I’m admitted,” he said.
On his new journey, Franklin shared that he looks most forward to adjusting to his new surroundings. He acknowledges that he will be considered a minority at his new university.
For helping him reach his next stage in life, Franklin thanks his family, his best friends Keahria and Opeoluwa, and most importantly his biggest supporter, his nana.