Representative Dr. Jon Santiago On Service, Of All Kinds

On March 9, Massachusetts State Representative Dr. Jon Santiago spoke to students, faculty, and staff in virtual Hall and discussed—from his personal experience—the many ways in which one can choose to meaningfully serve others and their community. Dr. Santiago is the Representative for the 9th Suffolk District (Boston), centered in the South End, and an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center. A lifelong public servant, Representative Santiago was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and he continues to serve as a captain in the Army Reserve. He spent five years abroad working in community organizing and public health. His current policy and clinical interests are focused on improving quality and access to care for underserved communities.

“I’m a relentless optimist,” he said in Hall. “I do what I do because I think the world can be a better place. I made the decision to enter the Peace Corps, to join the Army, to work in BMC’s ER, to serve as an elected state official, because I am ultimately a believer in people, and a believer that the world can become a better place. While I was with the Peace Corps, in the Dominican Republic, I was sitting in bed—alone, in a different country—thinking, ‘Is the world becoming a better place, historically speaking? And can I have a role in making that so?’”

Recently, Representative Santiago has used his roles as both an elected official and ER physician to advocate for resources and equity-oriented policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. He worked in the emergency room each week during the COVID-19 surge, sharing social media videos to provide up-to-date information for hundreds of thousands of viewers. He has also been active in national and local media discussing a host of COVID-19 related issues while writing several Boston Globe op-eds. One of 14 legislators of color in the legislature, Representative Santiago played an instrumental role in leading the charge for police reform as a member of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus. Born in Puerto Rico, Dr. Santiago earned his bachelor’s degree in religious studies and biology from the University of Texas at Austin, his master’s in public health from the University of Washington, and his doctor of medicine from Yale. In February, Dr. Santiago announced his candidacy for Mayor of Boston, a post left vacant as Mayor Marty Walsh assumes the post of Secretary of Labor in President Biden’s administration.

Listen to the complete Q&A session with Dr. Santiago that took place at the end of his recent Hall.