Suffolk University Law School
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
“Fix what makes you angry”
Sixty thousand dollars.
A decade later, the gut-churning sight of that hospital bill still finds its way to the mind’s eye of Linette Duluc.
She was 17, a first-year student at the University of Connecticut and recently diagnosed with lupus. For two weeks in the hospital, she ruminated on both the heartbreaking certainty of not returning to school for at least a semester, and worse, the terrifying prospect of not surviving to even have that chance. And then there was the hospital bill.
“I panicked,” Linette remembers today. “Who could afford this? Who could possibly afford sixty thousand dollars?”
She could, her mom would assure her, thanks to the family’s health insurance. But what about those without coverage? The thought ate at her, and it was a seminal moment on a path that would wind its way from her biology degree at UConn to a Boston University School of Public Health master’s degree to a research job in pharmaceutical consulting and, ultimately, to Suffolk Law School, where the 27-year-old has recently begun her second year.
Linette’s Rappaport Fellowship this summer included legal research at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. It also included a weekly Speaker Series that was always inspiring, she said — particularly an appearance by Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, once a Rappaport Fellow herself.
“Her story is that she was just a regular person trying to do her best,” Linette said. “Then something made her angry, and she wanted to fix it. That was her message to us: Find what makes you angry, and work to fix it.”
The thought resonated. She flashed back to that $60,000 medical bill. She remembered learning at BUSPH about the disparity between the treatment of black and white mothers in maternity wards across the United States. She considered, in general, the systemic racism that causes inequities in the health care system.
Angry, to be sure. “It makes my blood boil,” Linette said.
The Rappaport Fellowship, she said, supplied her first actual legal experience, and that very work at EOHHS affirmed, as she said, that “what I’ve been learning in school has been accurate in the real world.”
And what she heard from Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins in another episode of the Rappaport Speaker Series — “if you’re learning about racism by reading about it, that’s a privilege” — reinforced that her anger is well-directed: improving health outcomes and access to health care for the underserved.
“I want to use my education and my skills to uplift black and brown communities,” Linette said. “I just want to help people make their lives easier.”