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General speaks of his persistence, dedication

Sept. 18, 2003

By Elvia Aguilar, reporter

When Brig. Gen. Dr. James T. Turlington was eight years old, he knew he wanted to be a doctor.

By 16, he was one step closer to achieving his dream when he enrolled at Baylor. In 1966, he received his bachelor of arts degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and history.

'I am not supposed to be here,' Turlington said to a group of more than 200 Baylor Air Force ROTC cadets, Tuesday at Bennett Auditorium.

'I was turned down numerous times in my endeavors to be in the Air Force, but sometimes you have to look for the back door into things.'

Turlington serves as the consultant to the Air Mobility Command surgeon command staff on reserve medical affairs and recommends programs to improve the mission of AMC reserve units.

However, Turlington said the only way he got to be a general was because of his persistence to maintain control of his life.

'Throughout your career you can't sit back and let things happen to you,' Turlington said.

After receiving his doctorate of medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine in 1970, the general served in active duty until 1981.

'When a general speaks, you listen to everything he says,' cadet Kyle Bremholm, a Katy junior, said. 'It was a very beneficial experience.'

In his civilian capacity, Turlington also runs a private urology practice in Muskogee, Okla.

He also is a Federal Aviation Administration medical examiner and is on the staff of the Muskogee Regional Medical Center and St. John's Medical Center in Tulsa.

'One of the keys to my career has been that I have always had access to good mentoring,' Turlington said. 'Stay well-educated and have zero tolerance for error.'

Turlington said he has reached most of his dreams and objectives, but would like to see two more.

Turlington said he would like to see Baylor win the Big 12 and he also would like to mentor senior urologists seeking commander or general positions.

Cadet captain Crystal Brown, a San Antonio senior, said Turlington's speech served not only for motivation, but also as a lesson from the world outside the 'college bubble.'

'As college students, we sometimes don't get to get a realistic view of what is happening out there,' Brown said. 'This is someone who was in our shoes once and has gone through many experiences we can all learn from.'