When Christian Strong was 15, his mother posted a note on the refrigerator professing that he would be a lawyer, doctor or judge, and that he would go Harvard University.
The note proved prophetic. Christian, now 22, is a third-year student at Harvard Medical School, the second youngest medical student in his class.
What made his mother post such a note? Mrs. Bobbie Strong, an evangelist, tells anyone who asks that a Scripture in Habakkuk 2:2 admonishes followers to, “Write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”
Christian Strong has been on the run academically most of his life. He started talking at 6 months old, has been reading since age 2 and attended Southwest College when he was 11, according to his mother.
When Christian was a student at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, he was allowed to skip the eleventh grade and go from the tenth to the twelfth. He graduated at 16 as the class valedictorian and entered Harvard at that same age.
“He always made good grades,” Mrs. Strong said. “He always wanted to be a doctor. He’s always been in the books.”
Christian has piled up the honors. On June 2, he was one of 14 second- and third-year medical students to receive a $5,000 Oliver Goldsmith Scholarship award from Kaiser Permanente. The award includes an opportunity to observe practicing physicians for four to six weeks at a Kaiser Permanente facility.
He has also received the 2011 Minority Scholar Award from the American Academy of Neurology, the 2011 Ghiso Fellowship from the Neil Ghiso Foundation for Compassionate Medical Care, the 2010 Tylenol Scholarship from the Tylenol Foundation, the 2010 Joseph Collins Scholarship from the Joseph Collins Foundation, the 2010 Alexandra J. Miliotis Fellowship in Pediatric Oncology from Harvard Medical School and the 2010 Dr. Stephen G. Jones and Wanda W. Jones Scholarship from Harvard University.
The aspiring neurosurgeon had a chance to meet with one of the doctors he most admires–noted neurosurgeon Ben Carson–before he made his decision to choose Harvard. Carson, who practices at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., made medical history in 1987 when he separated twins who were joined at the back of the head. Before Carson’s heroic 22-hour surgery, which took a team of 70 to complete, such operations had always ended in the death of one twin or the other. Christian and other minority students had brunch at Carson’s home.
Christian says he’s enjoying his training so far, although he hasn’t gotten into his specialty field yet.
“It’s nice to finally apply what you’ve learned. Right now I’m doing rotations in internal medicine. It’s [internal medicine] not what I imagined doing with my life, but it’s nice to have that foundation.”
After internal medicine, Christian will do rotations in surgery, pediatrics, obstetric and gynecology, neurology, radiology and psychiatry. Though he has assisted physicians performing surgeries, he has not been allowed to perform anything other than dermatologic procedures himself. But he will move into performing actual surgeries in about six weeks.
In the meantime, Christian’s other academic attributes keep him busy. During summers he teaches calculus and economics classes to Harvard undergraduates. And he’s a singer who loves both Gospel and R&B, and recently has developed an interest in Opera. As a kid he sang in the Mustard Seeds of Faith at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, where his family are members.
But Mrs. Strong believes Christian has one more calling.
“When I was carrying him as child I was told that he was anointed and that he would preach the word of God,” she says. “I believe he will eventually preach. He does it now in his own way. Several times when I hear him speak I hear the anointing.”
Then she said, “Say his name backward.”