Dr. Warren Strudwick reflects on winning the Take Wings Foundation's Angel Award 

Warren Strudwick is being honored Aug. 13 with an Angel Award by the Take Wings Foundation, a nonprofit working with at-risk youth to improve their social and life skills. The foundation was founded in 1997 by award-winning actress Terri J. Vaughn, who grew up in Hunters Point.

How did you react when you found out you were an Angel Award winner?

I thought it was kind of humbling and surprising. I’m on a personal journey to try to do as much as I can to help people ... especially young people. It’s just a big, humbling surprise.

Considering the foundation’s mission, what does this award mean to you?

I think that for me, it’s very important to recognize that everyone doesn’t have the opportunities that I have had. What I mean by that, some kids don’t have the opportunity to grow up in families that are supportive in whatever dreams they have. My personal mission, in respect to young people, is first of all to get them to show up — that’s, I think, the most important thing.

What was your foray into the medical world?

It’s funny, I was an athlete in high school and in college. It’s kind of an odd sport for an African-American guy. I always play the guessing game with people to see if they can get what it was. ... I swam and played water polo. When I played in college, there were three African-American players in the country. Myself from back East [Brown University], there was a guy from Michigan and there was a guy who played goalie from USC. And he ended up being in medical school with me.

You mentioned having plenty of role models during your youth, but who was your greatest inspiration?

My father [Warren Sr.], of course. He was a great role model for me. A great man ... and above all, that’s what I’m trying to be: a good man. He was a doctor himself, and he lived his life in a very humble way.

You are big on positive reinforcement in that it can help someone achieve his or her goals. It sounds like you had that at an early age?

Yeah, it’s like part of my DNA. My grandfather was the son of slaves on a plantation in North Carolina. Somehow, he got educated and he became a doctor. What’s funny about being a third-generation doctor, my grandfather died when my father was 9. He lived a good life, but he didn’t live a privileged life. That was always a theme with my father. Just because you know doesn’t mean that you’re better. You have to give back to the community. You have to be there and be present and show up for people.

You also mentor young athletes, especially young African-American males. How did that come about?

I felt it was my obligation to give back. But I can’t really tell you. It’s sort of always been there.

Is there any kind of credo that you live by?

If there is one overriding one, it’s be all that you can be ... and give to others.

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