Lynda Jordan’s letter to her young self

Reverend Lynda Marie Jordan is a researcher in Science and Religion, a community activist and an ordained minister. Dr. Lynda Jordan’s long-term goal is to positively contribute toward eradicating the obscurities which create the gaps between the needs of the community, and the resources of academia and the health care system.



Dear Lynda:

I know you have several things on your mind. You continuously ask God, why he made you different from your friends, and you also wonder if there is something wrong with you. Let me reassure you Lynda, there is nothing wrong with you—absolutely, positively nothing! You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, who has blessed you with multiple interests, ideas, gifts and talents.

For example, not only do you enjoy solving math problems, you also love music and dancing. Your love for math led you to chemistry. It was during your first chemistry class, at the Brandeis University Upward Bound Program, that you discovered the connection between math and chemistry. The teachers at the Upward Bound Program were the first to recognize your capacity to do science. You were also interested in biology and physics; but, you gravitated more toward chemistry, because chemistry allows you to frequently engage in solving math problems.

“Your love for math and chemistry parallels your passion for music, and you are also a singer, an alto.”

You are a member of your high school chorus, glee club and the youth choir at your church in Roxbury — The St. John Missionary Baptist Church Kelly Choir Number II. Music plays a vital role in your life. You enjoy listening to soft music while writing poetry or your innermost thoughts in your journal. Your mother would often find you tucked away in your bedroom reading a book while listening to soothing music playing in the background, or copying the words of a song from a recording.

There are so many things happening in your community. A lot of people do not have the basic things they need to live a quality life, and it bothers you. They are living without enough money for food, in an unsafe home and without enough clothing, so that they can be warm in the wintertime. You learned how to sew, so that you could make warm clothes, and you also made clothes for others. You have tremendous concern for the people in your family and community, Lynda. You want them to have what they need, and you are always thinking of ways to help others; so, you volunteer for many organizations, regularly. When you get discouraged because things do not seem as though they are changing fast enough, you go into your bedroom and dance to loud music. One of your favorite songs is, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” by James Brown.

“The two salient questions, which are constant in your thoughts, are Why? and How? Continue to ask those questions and be flexible enough to hunt in unusual places for the answers.”

Your life journey may be different, when compared to the other people you meet, but that is okay. A different direction does not mean that it is incorrect or defective. Your individuality and the distinctive way in which you look at things can be assets to your scientific career. Your innate desire to want to help others life better, will allow you to search for answers with a keen eye. Your ability to contribute to science can be unbounded, because you do not confine yourself by thinking in a box, and you are always helping others. Every facet of your complicated life is an entryway for you to ask questions, and search for solutions.

Keep going Lynda, just because you may experience things in your life which are poles apart from the experiences of others, it does not mean that something is wrong with you. There are always a number of people in the world who were born to address life issues in an unusual way. They are called pioneers. You are a pioneer, Lynda! You are also a trailblazer and a visionary. Lynda, you are a talented person and do not let anyone tell you differently. Your compassion, intellect, ability to get along with others and love for humanity strengthens your ability to address scientific problems in a distinctive way. You view science as a tool to find practical solutions to address the everyday problems of all people. Your contribution to the scientific field can help develop new methods, technologies and curricula to establish intervention & prevention programs that augment people’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. You also have the opportunity be a role model for others and help teach and train younger scientists, at all levels.

Lynda, maintain your desire to answer the questions why? and how? But most importantly Lynda, keep dancing and keep singing— especially when life seems cloudy and bleak. Continue to operate outside of the box, Lynda. Persist in asking the why questions, and don’t stop until you find solutions that quenches your desire to know—how.



Reverend Dr. Lynda Marie Jordan, M.S., Ph.D., M.Div., M.P.H., is a native Bostonian, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She is the third of fewer than ten women of African descent—to date—that has earned the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Chemistry, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After receiving the Ph.D. degree, Dr. Jordan became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. In addition to a successful career as a researcher, teacher and administrator, was also the first person to receive a Master of Divinity (MDiv) and the Master of Public Health (MPH) from Harvard University at the same time. Read more here.

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