The Heroines

Beth Alexander

is honored with a Brick from Anita Skeen.

 Beth  Alexander I first met Beth Alexander in the doctor's office, and she was the doctor. That encounter, seventeen years ago, is still vivid and fresh for me. It was the beginning of a lifetime connection with this woman who, when she applied to medical school at the University of Kansas when she was 28 years old and a mother of two small boys, was asked only what she would do with her children, whether her husband knew about her application, and about her earlier work as an educator for Planned Parenthood. In 1977, she graduated first in her medical school class of 200 and, among other things, has gone on to serve on the faculty of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, become the University Physician at Michigan State University, and, as of this date, delivered 2,276 babies.

Beth came from a home where women were not valued, from a family which believed the only acceptable career for a women was in home economics or nursing, and then only to support herself and her children in the case of the untimely demise of the husband. She was awarded a full scholarship to Northwestern University, but was forced by her family to turn it down because there was not a strong program in Home Economics. Thus, she enrolled in Home Economics at Kansas State University and at the end of the first semester, transferred to Sociology.

Putting herself through college, after receiving her degree from Kansas State, she went on to get a Masters in Counseling/Psychology at Indiana University before coming, with her husband, to Wichita State in 1971 where she worked in the Counseling Center until she went to medical school.

Now, as both a teacher and a family physician, she serves as a guide and a role model to students who come under her tutelage and to patients in her practice. She is one of the most dedicated and hard working members of any profession I have come across in my lifetime, serving also in organizations that work to eliminate domestic violence, insure women the right of choice in pregnancy, advocate equal rights for gay and lesbian people, address the needs of adolescents in the community, and are active in working for world peace.

A grower of roses and a tender of gardens, a woman who took up playing the flute when she turned 40 and the Celtic harp when she turned 50, Beth has recently revived her childhood interest in tennis (I am told that, as a 12 year old, upon being beaten by a boy in a tournament, she leapt the net and smashed the racquet over his head) and is playing on a traveling women's tennis team sponsored by her local Okemos, Michigan health club. Having given up soccer when we moved to Michigan (she coached and played on a Wichita team, the Sizzlers, which won several trophies), she now has another ball in her court.

At 52, she approaches the game of tennis the same way she has life: focus your attention, play your best, learn from those who have more skills, teach those who have fewer skills. Be a link, be a connection, be part of a community, a team. Winning is important, I know she would say, but playing well, and enjoying it, that's the point.

Submitted by Anita Skeen

July 28, 1998