Keisha Ray, PhD

August 23, 2022


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Keisha Ray, PhD
Assistant Professor
Director, Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration
Pronouns: She/Her

  1. Could you give some background about where you were born, raised, went to college, medical school and residency? When did you join UTHealth?

I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. I love Texas! Happy to be close to home. After high school I went to Baylor University in Waco and then soon after went to graduate school in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah to pursue a PhD in philosophy. Soon after that I first joined UTHealth as a postdoctoral fellow in the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics in 2015. After leaving to be a professor at Texas State University, I returned to UTHealth as a professor in 2019.

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in science?

I’m a bioethicist. I went to a health sciences high school that tried to prepare students for a career in medicine but and from that experience I discovered I had more of a desire to study the theoretical and philosophical questions about medicine rather than an interest in practicing medicine. I had more why questions. And I wanted to know about the ethics and social implications of medicine. So I studied philosophy with a specialty in bioethics and medical ethics.

  1. Tell us a little bit about what you do as a faculty member? What challenges do you face in your area discipline?

I am an ethicist at UTHealth. I give ethics lectures in the MMS core curriculum. I teach ethics in some of the clerkships like psychiatry. I am also the director of the Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration. I lead this certificate program, which is the largest on campus. As a part of this program one of my favorite things I get to do is teach electives on Black people’s historical and contemporary relationship with medicine. I try to help our medical students be prepared to be good caregivers for this marginalized population as well as be knowledgeable about the social and political determinants of Black people’s health.

  1. How do you promote diversity in your position here at UTHealth?

Well, I believe there is power in representation. So by being a Black woman professor in this profession, especially when there are so few of us, is a direct representation of diversity. Many students will tell me I am their first Black professor and just seeing someone that looks like them in this position is helping them and all other students be exposed to diverse people and viewpoints. Additionally, I have been a part of the MMS diversity committee for 2 years now. My research on race and health, on and off campus lectures, the grand rounds I have given on race, and the public scholarship on race I participate in, also all promote diversity. All of my work includes the implications for racially marginalized people, whether the topic is directly or loosely related to race.

  1. What’s your favorite part about working at UTHealth Houston?

My favorite part of UTHealth are the people. My colleagues are very supportive and give me the space to do my work and are willing to collaborate when I need help My colleagues are also very dedicated to the students and their energy for making our programs support our students educational and professional needs makes me excited to be here. Also, our students are great! Their enthusiasm for social justice and reforming medicine so that it serves people that have been historically excluded from health care is inspiring.

  1. Who are/were your role models? What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

The women in my family have always been my role models. They are caring, loving, goal-oriented, educated, businesswomen who have always balanced career and family and friends. They also make time for leisure! They rest and vacation for work/life balance.

The most helpful advice I have receive is to make time for rest and take care of your health. We must take care of ourselves.

7. What is your advice to students who intend to pursue an academic career?

My best advice for students who want to pursue an academic career is to bring who you are to your career. There is no one else like you so no one else can be the kind of academic that you can be. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in all parts of your career. You will be happier this way and likely rewarded for it in your career.

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