Dr Lucile Burgo-Black, Class of 1970 (1965-70), is Assistant Clinical Professor Medicine at Yale, and also works to ensure that veterans get the best care.
As a doctor working with war veterans at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Connecticut, Dr Lucile Burgo-Black has seen first-hand the devastation of battle.
Now, as National Co-Director of the Veterans Health Administration’s Post-Deployment Integrated Care Initiative, she splits her time between seeing patients, teaching students, and delivering talks and presentations on behalf of the central office in Washington, DC. “We’re working on making sure that the lessons we’ve learned are hard-wired into the system so that, after each war, we don’t have to relearn how to take care of people coming back.”
In fact, she says, she fell into the work almost by accident. After leaving AISZ she contemplated pursuing skiing professionally, but instead she went to Brown University in Rhode Island to study marine biology, before deciding she “really liked working with people” and returning to medical school at the University of Lausanne. It was there that she met her husband, Robert.
After graduation, they settled in the US state of Connecticut, and had four children in four years. Looking for work she could fit around her family, Lucile took a part-time primary care job at the local VA hospital and soon became passionate about the healthcare needs of people who have been to war.
“I always look back on AISZ, more than my college experience, as making me who I am today: a lot of challenges, a lot of opportunities and incredible mentoring. I tried to get involved in every sport going and the trips were brilliant. We went camping along the Rhine one year – I can still remember the foldable kayaks – and it was a two-week mud-fest, but with so many fun memories.
“Ski weeks were just the best time, and reading books with Chuck Kruger (former English teacher, 1966-90) and playing in the lab with Fowler Stillman (former biology teacher, 1967-89) was just so wonderful. The school’s first head teacher John Mattern (1963-71) was an amazing guy; he had this Jungian atmosphere, just thinking about how we can understand ourselves, and by understanding yourself you can learn about life and others. They just did a wonderful job in raising adolescents.”
Now at Yale, she has stayed connected to her AISZ classmates, thanks to Facebook and occasional reunions. And she says the lessons she learned from the school have stayed with her throughout her career. “You have to work hard, you have to explore, you have to be curious. I had this curiosity to find out about the world that I still hold today. It just makes life so interesting and rewarding.”
WORDS DIANE SHIPLEY / PHOTOGRAPHY SALLY MONTANA