Published November 2, 2022
When Takesha Leonard first came to UB as an undergraduate student from the Bronx, she felt the profound disorientation that comes with being in a completely new environment. That subsided as she found her place amid a community she soon came to love. When, 20 years after graduating with her BSN, she returned to UB to complete a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certification, she says it felt like coming home.
Leonard, a nurse practitioner and medical director at Jericho Road Community Health Center’s Doat Street site, sat down recently with UBNow to talk about what makes her — and keeps her — True Blue.
Outside of family bonds — her husband is also an alumnus, and one of their sons is eyeing UB for his dreams of med school — it’s the evolution of the university’s culture of diversity that makes her most proud.
“I came here as a 17-year-old student from the Bronx. And although I saw other Black and brown students, I didn’t see a lot of Black and brown people in administration, in higher levels of support, professors and roles like that,” Leonard says. But that’s changing, she says. Now, as she continues to work with UB as a teacher and mentor, she sees workshops happening, conversations taking place and opportunities increasing.
Through her work at Jericho Road, Leonard launched a medical mentorship program that gives high school students in Buffalo’s East Side communities access and insight into fields in health care and medicine. She says the School of Nursing played an instrumental part, hosting participants for a day of tours, talks and demonstrations in the simulation lab.
Leonard is thrilled to be able to maintain these ties.
“I really love my school,” she says, “and I’m excited about bringing that love at the heart of UB to our communities and to other students.”
Her own experience is the inspiration.
“It’s a place where you can find yourself. It’s a big school, but you can find your home here. Students coming here get the opportunity to explore different fields and to dream. They get to dream big here — and that’s pretty cool.”
Ms Leonard is the real deal and continues to inspire and heal!