By the time I graduated from Robert E. Lee High School, I knew that I wanted to be a physician. My father, Carter Anderson, was a physician in Tyler and his dedication to serving and caring for people inspired me. I knew that my father had gotten fine pre-med preparation by starting out at a junior college, so it made sense for me to begin my studies at Tyler Junior College. I knew I’d get a good start with TJC’s excellent professors and that I’d be more successful in TJC’s smaller classes. I wanted to feel like a person instead of just being a number at a large university with hundreds of other students in my classes.
TJC was a great choice for me. The environment was student friendly and my professors were accessible both in class and outside of class. I have special memories of Mr. Henderson, my biology professor, who had lost most of his vision but was able to deliver detailed lectures from memory. Mr. James Wicks expounded in eloquent detail on the dangers of heavier than air, highly-flammable ether before we synthesized it in biochemistry. And I’ll never forget Mary Burton’s fiery red hair and her deep love of literature. They each helped me develop strong study habits, discipline, and the core knowledge that would serve me not only in medical school but also in the practice of medicine, which requires a life-long commitment to learning. Medical school admission is very competitive and students with a shaky start in their early years of college usually cannot raise their grade point averages enough later on to gain admission. TJC was challenging but it felt easier because of the nurturing and supportive environment, so I started out with a strong GPA and the skills to be successful when I transferred.
TJC also holds a special place in the hearts of many in my family. Both of my sisters, Suzanne and Holly, attended TJC before going on for advanced degrees. Suzanne obtained her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and her master’s degree from North Texas State University, and she is now a great teacher and educator. Holly was next and outdid all of us by being the top student in her class at TJC. She then went on to graduate from UT Austin, and from there she was admitted to Baylor’s Law School and is a very fine lawyer.
Our son, Matt, also wanted to be a physician, so it was only natural for him to start on his path to medical school by going first to TJC before transferring to UT Austin. Admission to selective universities and to medical schools is even more competitive now, and TJC gave Matt a great start for both schools. After graduation from UT Austin, Matt was admitted to UT Medical School at San Antonio and has been practicing as a physician since 2004.
I have been practicing as an internist in Tyler for over 30 years and have had the privilege of caring for many of my former TJC professors. This has given me even more insight into how committed the professors at TJC are to teaching and instilling learning into their students. I’m so pleased that Tyler has become a “college town” with over 19,000 students enrolled at TJC, UT Tyler and Texas College. My family knows that wherever you want to go in life, you can get there from here, and I’m pleased that more than ever, this is true for future students.
- TJC Hero and Friend Dr. Richard Anderson, M.D. is a Tyler based physician practicing internal medicine in Tyler. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a former president of the medical staff at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital and East Texas Medical Center. He previously served as president of the Smith County Medical Society and is a recipient of the Gold Headed Cane Award of the Smith County Medical Society. He practices at Trinity Clinic and Trinity Mother Frances Hospital and is on consulting staff at East Texas Medical Center. He and his wife Gwen, a registered nurse, reside in Tyler and are active in the Tyler community.