In 1993, alumnus Ronald L. Wright (A&S ’94) was crowned Tulane University’s homecoming king. “The idea of being homecoming king is that you’re hoping you have engendered in your peers faith for them to say ‘this is someone we trust and want to be representative of our school,’” explains Wright. “I try to apply that same mentality to my work, my positions on nonprofit boards, and my volunteer work today.”
Wright is an OB/GYN based in Louisville, Ky. He has served on the board of directors at the University of Louisville and Clark Memorial Hospital and has volunteered for numerous organizations, schools, and centers. Wright knew he wanted to be a doctor from a young age, and he thought a path to medical school necessitated studying biology as an undergraduate. However, at a pre-med society meeting his sophomore year at Tulane, a guest speaker encouraged the students to consider a variety of majors as undergrads. Wright, having studied the language since seventh grade, quickly switched his major to French. Balancing his love for French and his desire to work in medicine, Wright also participated in Tulane EMS (TEMS) as a junior and senior.
“One of the great things about being a French major is that it is a fairly small cohort of classmates, so you really get to know each other,” said Wright. “I’m still in contact with several of those people even now.” Wright received the Louis Bush Medal from the Department of French and Italian as an undergraduate at Tulane, and although he doesn’t get to use his in-depth knowledge of French every day, it has been helpful when attending to a few of his patients and also allowed him to assist a man in cardiac arrest on an overseas flight. In addition, speaking French became essential for quickly learning Spanish during his residency at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas.
Reflecting on his years of practicing medicine and speaking French, Wright appreciates how these disciplines have allowed him to see and experience the world from multiple perspectives. “Often times, patients that speak the same language you speak are stressed, anxious, and have fears—they have to put a lot of trust in their physician. And it’s an even more vulnerable place for someone to be when they don’t know a language fluently. Learning French has benefitted me in considering different points of view, in being empathetic, and in understanding my patients’ and others’ perspectives more fully.”
"The homecoming court of 1993 was presented during halftime of the football game." Jambalaya yearbook 1994. Alumnus Ronald Wright (A&S ’94) is pictured fifth from the left. Photo credit: Jeremy Ehrhardt