Dr. Donald White Jr. joins Sweetpill.com to discuss his journey in becoming a Doctor of Optometry, his position as a leading businessman in the Tidewater area, and his passion of making a difference within the community. Get acquainted as we spill into the background of this certified black professional!
1) Introduce yourself …. My name is Dr. Donald White, Jr. I am an optometrist in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, with offices in Suffolk and Virginia Beach. I am an emerging leader in my profession and my community, and I like to describe myself as a “Man of Vision, Valor, and Value”. Every working day, my professional goal and mission is to provide the masses with “service of the greatest kind, quality, and manner”.
2) Where are you from? Where are your origins? In Danville, Virginia my life’s journey began and subsequently advanced through other parts of the state , including Roanoke and the Eastern Shore (where I spent most of my grade school years). I currently reside in the southside of Hampton Roads.
3) How did your passions in being a black professional develop? I may have been 4 or 5 years old, and I can remember my grandmother asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was so young that I didnt know what she meant, so she broke down for me what it meant to have an education and profession. Out of many suggestions she presented to me, she included that if I became a doctor I could “help take care of the family and help everyone live a long time”. My 4 or 5 year old self thought that would be the coolest thing ever. That small suggestion ignited a passion and determination that never waned, and from then the medical field was my goal.
4) What did your path to Optometry look like? With my path of being a doctor set, the most difficult part was deciding what kind of doctor I would become. That detail was my limiting factor. After undergrad I got a full-time job, but my real job was shadowing doctors in multiple fields of study to gain clarity of my decision and in hope of an epiphany. Following the start of my optometry shadowing experience, I had my light bulb moment. I saw how optometrists are literally in the business of helping family, friends, and others to see the world, and with the appreciation of that monumental task , my dream became unmovable.
5) As far as being a black professional in Optometry, what do you love the most? What I love most about being a black professional is opportunity. That includes: the opportunity to impact positive change in the community around us, the opportunity to call to task greatness in others, the opportunity to make a difference through leadership, and the opportunity to strengthen each pillar of the community structure. W.E.B DuBois once stated, “Education and work are the levers to uplift a people.” I agree, because the pillars of a strong and prosperous community are education, economic independence, and work ethic. The foundation is the charge of collective responsibility to faithfully build that community. While everyone in the African American community is called to take up these tasks, at times, one’s profession allows the opportunity for greater access to these.
6) What’s the hardest part about living your dream? The hardest part of living my dream is…student loans! Let’s be honest, if student loans weren’t weighing heavy over our heads, most college and professional school grads would be living our best lives. Im talking Lil Duval in the streets… everyday, lol.
For some, there is an internal aching and exhaustive uneasiness that resides when dreams go unfulfilled. The most rewarding part of living out my dream of being an optometrist is the feeling of peace and calmness once the yearning to reach the goal was quelled. Peace is, indeed, its own reward.
7) What makes you different among your peers? I value integrity, honesty, high moral standards, professionalism, respectfulness, kindness, and generosity (among other things). These are the tenor of upright daily living. I am not different from all of my peers in respect of these values, but I try to incorporate these standards in my home, church, community, and certainly my profession. I am confident that my practiced values are top tier when measured against any standard. You can’t get that from everyone.
8) What do you hope to accomplish in the future? Also, what can people expect from you outside of your practice? Most importantly, I hope my future shows me being the best doctor of optometry and the best businessman of optometry I can be. I also have other projects I am growing, slowly but surely. For example: i) I am extremely excited to be in the early stages of developing my own t-shirt and hoodie line. Every composition is crafted with a faith-based or inspirational message so that whether you have on a hoodie in the rain or t-shirt at night, people will be more inclined to have a positive impression of your image instead of seeing a stereotype. ii) Another one of my childhood dreams was to have my own ice cream business. I am elated to be in the beginning process of this as well. The ice cream has exquisite taste, healthier ingredients, no preservatives, is lactose free, and it’s all homemade!
9) Last but not least, what impression do you hope people will always keep in connecting your profession to who you are as a person? Anyone that knows me knows that I love quotes, so I’ll answer starting with a couple of my favorites:
i) “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – MLK
ii) “The life you live is the legacy you leave.” -Myself
I would like for the impression I have on people to be that they know that I try to heed the substance of those quotes with passion, sincerity, and action. In addition, I would like the impression to be that I have endeavored my best to embody those values I mentioned a few questions prior (integrity, honesty, high moral standards, professionalism, etc.). These are of the utmost importance because living a life of substantive value makes for a dynamic legacy.