Dr. Joy Balls-Berry met her husband Bernard while studying for her Ph.D. in Psychiatric Epidemiology in Toledo, Ohio. And if you have no idea what a psychiatric epidemiologist is, you are not alone. I looked it up and I still had to ask her to explain what she does.
Balls-Berry had no idea their journey would soon lead them to Rochester, Minnesota. In fact, they initially moved to the opposite side of the country to Jacksonville, Florida near her husband’s family.
She also had no idea how precious that time in Jacksonville would turn out to be or how blessed she would feel to get to know her father-in-law before he passed.
Two of Balls-Berry’s mentors in her postdoctoral work at the University of Florida were consultants at Mayo Clinic’s Jacksonville campus, which would eventually lead her to Rochester and Mayo Clinic for 9 years.
After moving to southeast Minnesota, Balls-Berry and her husband experienced several incidents that were potentially racist, being followed in the store and comments like “There’s not many of yous [sic] around here is there?” and “She won’t last a year.” Other incidents were more overtly racist, like being called a racial slur while walking to her car after work. Or the decapitated bunny left in her freshly planted flower bed.
While Balls-Berry made some wonderful connections and friendships, volunteered with non-profit organizations in areas she is passionate about, and valued her work at Mayo Clinic, she did not find the sense of community that she found while living in Toledo, Jacksonville, or even Uganda.
To learn more about Dr. Balls-Berry’s experience living and working in Rochester and her take on what the community does really well and what still needs to change, listen to The Other Side of the Table podcast, Season 2, episode #11 Dr. Joy Balls-Berry Part 1.