Photo: Donna VictorMiami doctor Inaki Bent, the first in his family to attend college, has dedicated his career to caring for the underserved.
Serving Families, Helping His Neighbors
Miami doctor Inaki Bent, the first in his family to attend college, has dedicated his career to caring for the underserved. He’s grateful to the Florida Lottery’s Bright Futures Scholarship for helping make it possible for him to give back to the community. He’s now an active volunteer in the community where he grew up, inspiring kids who may not have other role models.
Tell us about your childhood.
“My parents emigrated from Haiti to inner-city Miami in the 1970s. Coming from the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, they believed education was the key to success in America. They instilled this into me and my four brothers at a very young age. But when it came time to apply to college, I had to show myself the ropes. No one in my family had any experience with the U.S. college system or applying for scholarships. Fortunately, I had many mentors to help me, including a high school advisor who told me about the Bright Futures scholarship program funded by the Florida Lottery.”
How did you pick your major?
“I knew early on I wanted to study medicine. I liked helping people. In high school, I volunteered at the same hospital where I work now and saw the positive impact doctors made on people’s lives every day. That inspired me, but I didn’t know what to do with that inspiration. I didn’t have any role models who were physicians. I had to figure out my own path. That’s why it’s so important for me to give back to the community where I grew up. Today, I attend career days at local high schools and talk to kids about my job and all the opportunities in the medical field. I think it goes a long way for the students to see someone from their background talk about their experience and achievements. I longed for that when I was younger.”
Tell us about your career path and current job.
”I’m a lead attending physician at Jackson Health System. We work with Miami-Dade Corrections, the seventh-largest correctional facility in the country, to help care for thousands of incarcerated patients. I also teach at Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University, and work with a company that delivers home-based primary care to patients who are unable to travel to the doctor’s office.
Before that, I worked in private practice, helping to care for people with financial need in the community where I grew up. Many of our patients remembered me as a child, and it was an honor to serve them. My parents always stressed the importance of faith, family and community. Their selflessness inspired me to focus my career on caring for the underserved.”
Would you have been able to attend college without the Bright Futures Scholarship?
”It would have been very difficult. The Bright Futures Scholarship gave me my head start. Because I didn’t have to apply for student loans or work a part-time job, I was able to focus on my studies. I was also able to be there for my family when they needed me most. My brother passed away my first week of medical school. It turned my life upside down. Growing up, he had repeated run-ins with the law, and he’s one of the reasons I went into correctional medicine. He frequented many of the facilities where I work today. Also, while I was in school, my father was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. Fortunately, he received a life-saving kidney transplant in 2015. We count our blessings every day. The confidence Bright Futures gave me to focus on my studies and my family empowered me to be where I am today.
About The Florida Lottery / Bright Futures The Florida Lottery puts education in the spotlight with the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Lottery is committed to helping students shine inside and outside of the classroom so that they can have brighter tomorrows. Since 1988, the Florida Lottery has contributed more than $34 billion to education and has sent more than 800,000 students to college on Bright Futures Scholarships.