As a first generation American, Dr. Inaki Bent went through many challenges to become a renowned physician. His determination and a little help from those around him made his triumph that much more rewarding.
When Dr. Inaki Bent’s parents moved to Florida from Haiti in the early 70’s, they were trying to give their family a better life. Coming from one of the poorest countries on Earth, the Bents understood that money is never a given, and that one must work hard in order to succeed. Dr. Bent recalls those days: “I grew up in Miami, in the heart of the inner city from parents who emigrated from Haiti, and growing up we dealt with many issues that pertained to economics. I had a sibling who was in and out of correctional facilities, who my dad was struggling with.”
Dr. Bent’s father was a long-hours taxi driver, and his mother was a nurse’s aide at one of the local hospitals just to make ends meet. So, pursuing a higher education was in no way a small task. “We’re from humble beginnings,” says the doctor. But still, he was determined. The only thing he needed was one shot.
“My family had a minimum understanding of how the country works, and navigating through my educational pathway was tough. I was the first in my family who graduated from high school.” Fortunately for him, he was not alone. Through people who are invested in helping others achieve their goals, Dr. Bent found the right tools. “I attended one of Miami’s historical African American High Schools in the heart of Liberty City, and one of the counselors introduced me to the Bright Futures Scholarship. It allowed me to attend college because my tuition was paid for, so that was one less burden on my parents. I’m not sure without it where I would be.”
Now, he is able to help others. Dr. Bent became the first college graduate and doctor in his family. He obtained his Bachelor of Science from Florida State University in 2003, his Masters in Biomedical Science from Barry University in 2005, and an MBA and Doctorate at Nova Southeastern in 2010. “I always knew at a young age that I wanted to become a physician. Growing up, my mother was a nurse’s aide. Also, around the time I was in high school, my father developed chronic kidney disease, and that also helped spark my interest in medicine.”
His father would eventually have a kidney transplant in 2014 at the hospital where Dr. Bent did his training. “So, my dad was getting his transplant while I was a doctor at the hospital. It was very rewarding.”
Doing It For The Community
Now, aside from his duties as an attending physician with Jackson Health System, as well as the Associate Medical Director for My Home Doctor, LLC., Dr. Bent spends time mentoring kids and working at a correctional facility tending to inmates. “They teach me lessons every day. The most important one is that a patient is a patient no matter what state in life they come from, whatever stage in their life, whatever circumstances. At the end of the day, we are still all human beings, and we all require dignity, respect and quality health care. So, that’s one of the humbling lessons that I’ve learned working with this underserved population.”
As a mentor, Dr. Bent encourages college students to reach for their dreams, set high goals, and find the tools to help them get ahead. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there are definitely resources available, like the Bright Futures Scholarship. I would encourage teens to find a mentor, maybe a teacher, a counselor, a pastor, or someone they may look up to, to help guide them into a career. I personally mentor college students or the aspiring medical students, and I do what I can to try to share my story and share a bit of wisdom, so that they wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes or have the same challenges that I went through.”
Giving back to your community is a good lesson to learn from Dr. Bent. In his eyes, it has always been a collective effort to get him from where he started to where he is now. “I hold my community and my family with high regards. Being able to achieve these accomplishments, I see that I have represented my community well for everything that they poured into me. So, these rewards, these victories, are not mine at all, I share them with family, friends, and those who have allowed me to get to this point.”
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