Creating Dreamers and Doers: Jasmine Long and Sharon Ware
Jasmine Long and Sharon Ware grew up in different neighborhoods, but their connection transcends residential blocks. Broken barriers now build the dreams to change their communities for the better.
Ms. Long hailed from the southeast side of Canton; Ms. Ware called Massillon home. But, the obstacles to accessible health care were the same. Today, they are medical students ready to change it.
“Growing up, I watched as family members struggled daily with untreated health issues,” Ms. Long said. “Life could have been so much better for them, had they had access to the care they needed.”
As a child, Ms. Long loved studying anatomy. Her favorite “The Magic School Bus” episode explored inside the human body. But discouragement surrounded this girl growing up in the southeast side where she was told medical doctors didn’t come.
“Find something more realistic,” they said.
What was real at the time was the wrong crowd, which she fell into.
But Ms. Long was drawn back to the science books that first sparked her desire to learn. Anatomy and physiology textbooks were her page-turners and, one day, the right encouragement came.
What seemed like the impossible suddenly wasn’t. “I’m where I am today because of God’s grace,” she said.
In 2015, Ms. Long graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in public health. She credits her undergraduate professors, Kent State University at Stark faculty among them, with encouraging her to become Jasmine Long, D.O.
Now, this mother of three spends her weeks studying medicine at the Cleveland Campus of Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. It is where this Kent State alumna met Ms. Ware, a fellow alumna.
The two have forged a fast friendship, and while studying different programs, the end goal is the same.
Ms. Ware, a single mom, said the idea of being a physician “wouldn’t leave my heart.” After graduation from Kent State Stark in 2008, she went on to earn a master’s degree in biological sciences from Rutgers University in 2011.
“My biggest inspiration in pursuing medical school is my daughter,” Ms. Ware said. “She is so proud of me, and I’m grateful to tell her that if you have a goal – no matter what it is – you can achieve it. I hope that when she grows up she realizes that she can change the world.”
Zianna is 5 and tells her friends that her mommy is studying to become a doctor. Ms. Ware’s fiancé, Leon Canty, and her parents, including mother Irene, also are a huge support as Ms. Ware pursues her medical degree.
Her program, Transformative Care Continuum (TCC), is unique to Ohio University’s Cleveland Campus, and when she completes it, she’ll have a residency waiting for her at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
She plans to take her skills home to Massillon one day. “I’m humbled at the idea of being able to treat my community,” Ms. Ware said. “I want to empower them to embrace life to the fullest possible in their level of health.”
Ms. Long credits her husband, Ross, for being her biggest supporter. He takes care of their three girls, 3-year-old Auni; 5-year-old Auné; and Ruby, who is 15. “I know that I am carrying out my life purpose to make a difference,” she said. “My husband and my children know they are called to be a part of the journey.”
Ms. Long is currently completing her first year of medical school and plans to tackle her rotations at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Eventually though, she’d like to open a clinic in her southeast Canton neighborhood.
“Coming from where I am from, big dreams are really important,” Ms. Long said. “I am a dreamer.”