NEW ORLEANS (BRPROUD) – For years Dr. Russell Ledet’s passion has been helping more minority students enter the medical field. He is now accomplishing this goal by raising money for students through his nonprofit, 15 White Coats.

15 White Coats was established after a viral photo of Ledet and 15 medical students posed in front of a plantation in St. John the Baptist Parish.

According to Sydney Labat, vice president of 15 White Coats, the number of Black doctors is declining. The nonprofit gives Black students a mentor to look up to in the field.

“The journey of us becoming the 15 white coats is inspired by a story of my daughter and I going to visit the Whitney Plantation. She stop me mid-sentence and said ‘Dad, I finally understand why it’s so important to be a Black doctor in America.’ I was like, ‘Why do you say that?’ She said, ‘Well just think about it. We just left a plantation and there they couldn’t read, they couldn’t write and now I am driving in the car with someone who is called doctor,'” said Ledet.

The nonprofit works with high school, college and medical students aspiring toward medical degrees. Their goal is to mentor the youth and push more minorities to help narrow the gap in health disparities.

“We do need representation in medicine,” Ledet said. “If you never [saw] a Black doctor before, it makes the ability to becoming a Black doctor more difficult.” 

15 White Coats has a new campaign called “Resilience is in our DNA.”

The nonprofit is selling t-shirts with their mantra, with all proceeds going to their next scholarship.