Robertson Goes from 5th Grade to Doctor on LMU Campus
Lincoln Memorial University–DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) 2020 graduate Dakota Robertson has the unique distinction of spending his entire academic career on the LMU campus. His journey began at the J. Frank White Academy (JFWA) in 5th grade and brought him through high school, college and medical school in classrooms all within walking distance of each other.
“As you would likely guess, the campus has, over time, become a place that is part of who I am,” Robertson said. “It continuously gets more difficult for me to remember a time in my life that I wasn’t on campus. I think each person would have a different feeling about it, but I, for one, consider it a blessing. I am a creature of habit, so being at the same place for so long certainly fits my personality and has been welcomed.”
Robertson’s LMU undergraduate math and science classes were in Farr-Chinnock Hall, which now houses the JFWA upper school. However, Robertson attended middle school and high school at JFWA starting in 2004 in DAR-Whitford Hall. At the time, JFWA began in 5th grade and LMU-DCOM did not yet exist.
“I remember everyone being excited about a medical school coming in and what all it would do for our economy and our little area,” Robertson said. “But I also have many memories of that entire half of campus being forestland and cow pastures.”
As a child, Robertson enjoyed cheering for his older siblings and their friends at JFWA sporting events and he couldn’t wait to follow in their footsteps. Robertson’s favorite JFWA memories involve being coached by his father, Craig Robertson, at basketball in the Mary Mars Gymnasium and baseball at the old Lamar Hennon field at the center of campus.
“The time we spent together and the way he used coaching as a tool to help mold me into the man I would ultimately become is what I remember and cherish the most,” Robertson said.
The summer before starting college, Robertson found his inspiration to become a physician while working in Middlesboro, Kentucky, at the office of Dr. Neil G. Barry, III, where his mother, Sherri Robertson, was also working. He began as a file clerk and was an employee there throughout his undergraduate years, learning about medicine from both Barry and his mother. He was also influenced by fellow DCOM graduate Dr. Dan Hammer and Dr. Tony Crumley.
“Dr. Barry, my mother and my father all helped me to realized that medicine was my calling all along,” Robertson said. “The Lord did the guiding from there. I even ended up having the honor of doing multiple rotations with Dr. Barry during my third and fourth years of medical school.”
Robertson has extensive family ties to JFWA and LMU, going back to his grandfather, E. Oscar Robertson, who served as LMU’s chairman of the board of trustees until his passing in 2004. He has three older siblings who graduated from JFWA, as well as several cousins, including his colleague Dr. John Michael Robertson. Two siblings attended LMU. His brother played baseball for the Railsplitters. His mother and sister earned Master of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner degrees from the LMU-Caylor School of Nursing.
“I don’t think any of my accomplishments would be as meaningful, to me personally, without having been so entrenched in the LMU community as I pursued them,” he said. “I have been able to maintain my support system, increase my role and actions in the community, all while continuously learning how to better serve my home and my people in the future.”
Robertson said his grandfather loved to help LMU because of its mission to provide opportunities for the people in the area.
“There is a road on campus named in honor of my grandfather, and it is a nice reminder of my family’s connections to the University each time I pass by,” Robertson said.
His uncle, Edwin Robertson, also served on the LMU Board of Trustees and was heavily involved in the community of Harrogate during his lifetime.
“His contributions to the University and to Harrogate cannot be overstated,” Robertson said. “His legacy continues to have an impact on the area nearly a decade after his untimely passing.”
Robertson’s father was an enthusiastic parent volunteer with JFWA for nearly a decade and continues to be an LMU donor. He has received numerous awards from LMU for his service and dedication to the institution and the area.
“It has always been an understanding in my family that you give back to those who have given to and helped you,” Robertson said. “The Tri-State area is comprised of so many of those individuals who have done those things for me, so being able to serve them when I finish residency training is something I am very much looking forward to.”
Robertson, his wife Lauren, a 2015 LMU graduate with an Associate of Science in Nursing, and their daughter Everly Kay are moving to Abingdon, Virginia, for his residency at Johnston Memorial Hospital for three years.
“I can say with a lot of confidence that I will be returning to my home, serving my people, and hopefully be making a difference in our area once I return,” Robertson said. “The Lord has opened so many doors in this regard already, and I can’t wait to be able to walk through them. Outside of medicine, I am excited to continue growing as a father and husband. My wife and my daughter are two of my biggest blessings and having them in my life serves as motivation to become a better physician and a better man.
The J. Frank White Academy is a private, college preparatory day school serving grades K-12, located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University. JFWA is fully accredited and STEM certified by Cognia, which is the first internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) schools and programs, signaling the growing emphasis on STEM education by educators, politicians and business leaders around the world. For more information contact JFWA Director of Admissions Bernie Harrington at [email protected] or apply online at JFWA.LMUnet.edu.