Dr. Robert L. Jamison has a great sense of humor, and he is a truly remarkable person. He was an absolute pleasure to speak with. The opportunity of speaking with this spirited gem taught me so many insightful lessons about determination and motivation. While sharing his story, I felt I had been taken on a journey with him—the trip of a lifetime. My fascination had been piqued by how someone could come from such a tumultuous background and yet triumph against all odds! There are no spoilers here, but it is pertinent to say that Dr. Jamison is a miracle man who works wonders. God has truly blessed and touched him in numerous ways throughout his life. I want to share with you what he told me about his rollercoaster life that led to triumph.
Hi Dr. Jamison, it's nice to speak with you today! It's an honor to be in your magazine.
Well, thank you! So, let's dig in? Where are you from? I'm from Memphis, TN. I was born and raised in South Shelby County. I'm always using this slogan, "I come from the heart of Midtown Memphis."
Oh yeah, and where is that? The projects. (laughs)
That's what came to mind when you said it. I think it's just because of the way you said it. (laughs) So basically, you grew up in an economically challenged community. Yes. I grew up in the heart of Midtown Memphis in a low-Income Housing community. I feel that this is important because where I come from, many people do not believe that people from the projects can succeed. I want to be a source of inspiration for those who come from impoverished communities.
What high school did you graduate from? I graduated from Memphis Technical High School in 1979.
What year did you start your medical career? I started my medical career at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN.
That's awesome. Let's go back to your childhood years because I like to dig a little bit deeper. OK, cool.
With all that you said coming from the projects in Memphis, TN, let's talk about a young man's journal from the projects to becoming a doctor. Let's talk about it. In my childhood, I lived in a home with domestic violence and a drug-addicted stepfather. As a result of my stepfather's abuse, my mother moved us to the projects so that we would be away from him and have a better life.
Once you moved, did things get better? Yes, it got better.
What was the length of time you spent in this abusive situation? Up until I was around 12 years old.
Coming from a home where your parents constantly fought, seeing a lot of drugs in the community, and watching people giving up on their dreams and lives? How did you differ from them? What changed in your life, and what motivated you to improve? Because my mother was one of the most important influences in my life, I wanted to do something positive to inspire her.
Your mother was inspired by something you did at a young age. Could you tell me more about it? Yes, I started my own business at 19 years old. At 20, I was the owner of my own company.
Wow, what was the name of the business? Jamison and associate's upholstery shop. It was a custom upholstery shop.
Well, you already had your own business at age 20. That's amazing! Thank you. Yes, I received my first degree in business and administration.
What educational programs did you take advantage of to obtain your college degree? Since I worked in the upholstery business, I was able to pay my way through school. By the time I was 20 years old, I had owned my own company.
Wow, that's awesome! What a massive accomplishment for a young man! Did you have employees working for you? I did. I had four employees, and they were all older than me. They were old enough to be my mom and dad. (laughs)
I love it! I started at Townsand Interior as a pillow stuffer, and that's how I became an entrepreneur. It was also an upholstery store at the time. I learned many skills as a pillow stuffer, and when I was ready to open my own business in the same building, I paid rent for the back portion of the building.
Being that young, did you have a mentor? Yes, a man by the name of Mr. Herman Owen. I considered him my business mentor. In addition, I would like to mention Larry Townsend as another notable name. Having worked for him for three years before becoming an entrepreneur, he opened many doors for me.
As your mentor, what were some things he encouraged you to do? He encouraged me to attend school to obtain my business and administration associate degree.
And the plot thickens. Now we're getting somewhere. This story is getting good. I can't wait to hear the rest of it. Carry on. During that time in history, Larry being Caucasian enabled him to open doors for me that I could not open for myself. Consequently, following his leadership allowed me to start my company, Jamerson and Associates Custom Upholstery.
That sounds amazing! Yes, it was great because, during that journey, I obtained major contracts with casinos, hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices. This is what led me into the medical field.
Wow, you built one block up on the other. So, what else happened? As a result of my efforts, I managed to land a big contract at Baptist hospital doing draperies and pillows for some of the physician's offices.
So, one day while walking across the street to the hospital, I noticed that there were openings for patient escorts on the job board. Thus, I applied for the job and was hired. Approximately 65 to 70 days after being hired, I was promoted to work in the recovery room as a patient care technician.
During that time, The Baptist Hospital provided individuals with a tuition reimbursement program that would allow them to get into college programs as long as they maintained a B grade point average. To put it simply, they paid for your tuition as you progressed. Then you were able to move to other departments.
Where was the facility located? The University of Tennessee Medical Training facility was governed by the University of Tennessee College Memphis campus.