Dr. Afriye Amerson knows that timing is everything-and then some. She is an OB/GYN in private practice in Hackensack, New Jersey. She juggles an onslaught of speaking engagements, patients, lab research, hospital demands, and a spin class—all while keeping her eye on the clock.
She needn’t be worried though. Blessed with a lyrical West African name at birth, Afriye (pronounced Af-free-YAY) means “child born at the right time”. And you might add, child at the right place too. At the tender age of six months, she became a media sensation when civil rights legend Rosa Parks cradled her for a photo op. The picture (seen here), still mounted on a piece of driftwood in her father’s living room, is a symbol of this doctor’s desire to make a difference in the world- just like Miss Parks so many years ago.
”Being a doctor and working in the media means I can be a bridge for people. I see so many women in my office from a 14-year old Irish girl going through puberty to a 97-year old great-great-grandmother from the Dominican Republic.” Diversity illuminates every part of this bilingual doctor’s life. “Language is the color of life” says Dr. Amerson, “It allows me to connect with every person who walks through my door.” Speaking with a voice that exudes a potent combination of warmth, confidence, and humility, she shares, “I have extraordinarily close relations with my patients, and they teach me so much about being a woman and a wife, a mother and an infinite source of love.”
That extraordinary closeness extends to audiences and viewers as well when they catch Afriye in action. A sought-after speaker, she is currently a spokesperson for pharmaceutical giant Ortho-McNeil and mulling over a future path in television. She chose obstetrics and gynecology as a specialty because “an OB/GYN sees more happy patients than any other doctor,” and she wanted to be around the joy. With her beeper going off seven times in ten minutes, Dr. Amerson’s clearly in her element as she gently laughs, “I’ve got three babies on hold. I might have to run out of here!”
She’ll be right on time as always but Dr. Amerson is also ahead of her time, starting high school at age 12, entering medical school at 20 and finishing her residency at 29. Pretty heady stuff for any young woman and this physician’s following a sure-fire prescription for success. While an undergraduate at Duke, she picked up a life-long motto while pledging a sorority. “I learned ‘that excuses are tools for the useless. They are monuments of nothingness, and those who specialize in excuses seldom excel at anything else.“
Dr. Amerson makes no excuses about her drive for excellence. She’s known since she was five years old that she wanted to be a doctor and a healer. Her parents, Bernida and Rolando, were college sweethearts who valued achievement. Her mother is an educator who founded two schools, her father an electrical engineer. “There was no room for failure in my life, but I’m not driven by collecting accolades.” Smiling warmly she adds, “I am definitely a work in progress. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!”
Vibrant and vivacious, there’s no doubt this good doctor with good timing will succeed.
Dr. Afriye Amerson is a member of the American Medical Association and the Medical Society of New Jersey. She is currently the assistant attending at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hackensack University Medical Center, and the founder of La Doctora’s Angels, an awareness campaign on umbilical cord blood banking. Since 2001 she has also been in private practice at Prospect Women’s Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.