In Her Words

Jessie L. Ternberg, Remarks on “Realizing the Dream,” October 8, 1993

In October 1993 Washington University School of Medicine commemorated the 75th anniversary of the admittance of women to the medical school with a special symposium, “Realizing the Dream.” Eight women physicians were honored with the “Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer Award” for their contributions in their specialties, improving patient welfare, and helping to educate the next generation of physicians. The Award was named in honor of one of the first women to enter the medical school in the fall of 1918. Aphrodite Jannopoulo wrote in her diary on September 26, 1918: “At last my dreams are realized, and I registered in the medical school this morning.”

On the occasion of the symposium, surgeon Jessie L. Ternberg, one of the recipients of the Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer Award, made these remarks:

I am frequently asked how things were when I was a student and later a surgical house officer. I can relate many situations – humorous now – not so humorous then. But I had the over-riding goal to be a physician and later to be a surgeon. Survival meant keeping one’s eye on the goal and for the most part a closed mouth. There were supporters. One tried not to let them down or to let down the hopes of future women also desiring a medical or surgical career. Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the admission of women to Washington University School of Medicine. The French have a saying that seems to cover occasions like this. Paraphrased, it is:

The more things change,
The more they stay the same.

Thank you for this wonderful honor, which I accept as a token not of the past but as a token of the possible future of women at Washington University School of Medicine.

1993 Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer Award recipients
Recipients of the 1993 Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer Award (Jessie L. Ternberg is standing, far left).