Even though Dr. Lillian McLean Beard was recently named one of the nation's top 10 young women, she is not nearly satisfied.
And that is despite a thriving pediatrics practice in Petworth, a Northwest Washington community, the respect of her colleagues and seats on the boards of dozens of organizations.
Still, the 35-year-old says firmly, "I don't feel I've made it.
"I don't want to sound like I'm being grandiose, but I want to make a major contribution in the health services."
She has obviously already contributed enough to satisfy the Outstanding Young Women of America, the organization which presented her with her latest award. But being extraordinary is nothing new for Beard.
In high school, she was one of five black students in a class of 1,055. At Howard University's College of Medicine, she was one of 15 women in a class of 100. Now, she is one of two blacks among the top 10 women in the nation, chosen from 53,000 nominees.
Her seven-page, double-spaced resume is an exhaustive listing of citations, professional and civic accomplishments. The personal telephone book she keeps in her purse has extra pages stapled in with names spilling over into the Z section.
The stately and personable doctor pursues life almost as though she has only a year to live and wants to cram in everything possible. Aside from her busy practice and civic commitments, she takes French, piano and dance lessons and plays tennis twice a week. Asked what she would choose if she had only one wish, there is no hesitation. "I would choose to have 10 more," she comes back.
Despite her obvious commitment to Washington, Beard and her attorney husband have moved to a five-bedroom home in Potomac, Md.
"It doesn't matter where we live," she says. "It doesn't affect our social commitment. All my endeavors are in the city. All my time and energy is spent in the inner city.
"I feel the quality of life for a large segment of the population leaves something to be desired," she says, measuring her words. "i feel committed to making a change."
Beard's professional commitment to her patients makes watching her with the youngsters a real pleasure.
"What's all this stuff about diarrhea and vomiting you've been having?" she ask four-month-old Kiara Hill. Of course, not expecting an answer. "Hi, sweetheart. What's the matter?" she follows with maternal concern when the baby starts crying.
"I think you're a faker," she kids as the baby slips a thumb into her tiny mouth and begins sucking contentedly.
Beard, wearing a yellow smock with bright, eye-catching tulips, then asks Kiara's mother about the child's development as well as feeding and sleeping habits.
"The children really like her," one mother, Delores Huddleston, said. She has been going to Beard since her 5 1/2-year-old Carol was born. Huddleston lives in Southeast, but said the long trip to see Beard is worth the time it takes.
"She takes the time to talk to you about your child," Huddleston explained.
"You end up waiting a little longer, but when it's your turn you're glad. All your questions are answered."
The waiting room is furnished like a nursery school, with toys, a small slide for toddlers, and books, such as "Bible Stories" and "Aesop's Fables."
"We look at the child as part of the family and part of the community and not just at the physical symptoms," Beard said.
There must be change in the students admitted to medical schools to bring about change in health care, she said. She serves on the admissions committee of the George Washington University School of Medicine where she advocates admitting more minority students.
"Admission to professional schools is readily available to a certain segment of well-prepared young people," she says. "It isn't for people who come from families who did not gear them up from the eighth grade."
Beard was preparing for medical school even before she got to the eighth grade.
"I can't remember when I didn't want to be a doctor," she says.
When she told her elementary school teachers, some corrected her, saying she must mean that she wanted to be a nurse.
But Beard's mother, who raised her two daughters alone while juggling two jobs and attending college herself, told her girls they could do anything if they put their minds to it.
"My mother never tolerated my saying I couldn't do something. She would always tell me to at least try." She also would not tolerate any self-consciousness.
At 11 years old, Beard, who was tall for her age, would slouch in futile attempts to make herself shorter.
"My mother told me to stand tall and be proud of what I am," she recalled.
The McLean family was considered "different" in the Fort Green project in Brooklyn where she grew up, Beard said.
The children took piano and violin lessons in a neighborhood where most children got their lessons in the streets.
"We took advantage of everything that was free. We went to museums and young people's concerts," the doctor recalls.
Beard graduated from elementary school at the top of her class. Her mother checked test scores for all Brooklyn high schools and determined that her daughter would go to the best, Midwood High School in Flatbush, two buses and a subway ride away.
"I used to tell her that as soon as she reaches one step on the ladder to continue to reach for the next one," said Mrs. McLean, who lives in Westchester County in New York state and still works two jobs, although she no longer needs to. "She seemed to have taken the lesson in," she said of her daughter.
People who know Beard were not surprised to hear about her most recent award.
"I would expect nothing else from her," said Altovise Gore Davis, wife of singer Sammy Davis Jr. and Beard's childhood friend, from Los Angeles. The two grew up in the same projects and have remained friends.
"There are a lot of black women with an untapped potential," Beard said. "There are many who have made it and many more who will make it. I've been lucky to have been recognized."
Sarah Weddington, special assistant to President Carter, was also named one of the top 10 young women. The 34-year-old Texas lawyer filled the White House post vacated last year by Midge Costanza.