LifestyleBlack History Month


Aurora Sinai health care worker dedicates her life to mentoring others

"We have to lift as we climb."
Melanie Gray
Posted at 6:33 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 19:35:11-05

Melanie Gray has spent her life by a mantra that she learned from her mentor Gloria Gilmer, a math pioneer from Milwaukee.

"She would say, 'Okay, Melanie, we must lift as we climb. We must lift as we climb,'" Gray said. "When she would do her checks with me, she's saying, 'What are you doing? Who are you helping?'"

Gray works as a program manager for trauma-informed care at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in downtown Milwaukee. However, her day begins before she clocks in as she mentors more than a dozen people across the community. By her count, Gray has mentored hundreds of people over the years.

"People contact me all day. They start in the morning, 'What should I do? Where should I go? Can we meet?' That's fine because we have to lift as we climb," Gray said. "People are important. I didn't get to go through a journey of 20 years, 25 years in nursing without someone investing in me."

Melanie Gray with Gloria Gilmer

Gray grew up in Milwaukee's 53206 zip code, an area that has seen challenges from all angles. Her father worked as a welder and her mother was a licensed practical nurse or LPN.

Gray believes her experience in the community, as a first-generation college graduate, and a health care professional helps guide her to serve as a bridge.

"We want to help our team members considered understand the impact of chronic ongoing stress, multi-generational and historical trauma, and how that can impact and influence behaviors for a lifetime," Gray explained.

Gray's journey led her to a career in nursing then a master's degree and recently a doctorate. Her passion for mentorship has helped colleagues see their potential and form lasting friendships.

Melanie Gray in nursing school.

Karina Brown works as a patient care manager at Aurora Sinai. She met Gray nearly 10 years ago through the Milwaukee Chapter Black Nurses Association.

She was not looking for a mentor at the time but found herself under Gray's wing.

"Melanie loves on you hard. It's a good love. She prays for you. Always making sure that you're okay," Brown described.

Since then Brown's career went from bedside nurse to educator to a leadership role where she aims to help others.

Melanie Gray obtains doctorate degree.

For Gray, her biggest hope that her mentees guide others is already coming true.

"Each one of us must see ourselves as being able to make a difference," Gray said.

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