Written by Nailah Herbert
Photography: NobleSol Art Group
Healthcare professionals are known to have a lasting impact on the lives of their patients due to their dedication, advocacy, and their servant’s heart. Dr. Zakevia Lewis-Kendrick is undoubtedly one of those healthcare professionals who is determined to leave her mark on the world.
Dr. Lewis-Kendrick holds many titles, personally and professionally. Among her professional roles, she is the Medical Case Manager Supervisor of the Infectious Disease department at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Lewis-Kendrick is also the Assistant Professor of Social Work at Limestone University. Many of Dr. Lewis-Kendrick’s patients and students lovingly call her “Dr. Z” for short.
Although Dr. Lewis-Kendrick is an esteemed professor and medical service provider, her journey to South Carolina isn’t a typical story.
Originally from Miami, Florida, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick has deep familial roots in the islands of Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas. With Dr. Lewis-Kendrick being a city girl, she decided to move to New York City in 1996 with her now ex-husband to work as a flight attendant for American Airlines. She started as a domestic flight attendant and quickly worked her way up the ladder to becoming an international flight attendant. She enjoyed her job, the big city, and most of all, her growing family. She became pregnant with her first son, Jeremiah Henry Kendrick, in 2000.
“When I was an international flight attendant, I was [routinely] stationed out of John F. Kennedy International Airport,” Dr. Lewis-Kendrick said. “When 9/11 hit, I was on maternity leave and I decided not to go back. That led me to become a stay-at-home mom, and eventually, I went back to school to get my education and to finish what I had started.”
The tragic day of September 11, 2001, was a surreal experience for millions of Americans, but especially for Dr. Lewis-Kendrick since she worked in the travel industry as a flight attendant. However, her calling to go back to school was a pull that she couldn’t ignore. She and her family packed their bags and headed for Charleston, South Carolina, in search of better opportunities for their growing family.
In 2001, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick enrolled at Limestone University, where she majored in social work. She also gave birth to her son, Jeremiah, who was diagnosed with sickle cell disease within the same year. As a hard-working mother and wife at the time, she promised herself to always be the best in every role, including motherhood and as a college student.
“Jeremiah was always with me. So, he was that kid that saw his mother always doing something with community service and education.”
During that time, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick felt that stay-at-home mothers shouldn’t give up on their dreams. So, she made sure that Jeremiah not only saw her being a great mom but also a great role model. He was able to see her do community service work in North Charleston, South Carolina, and study to get her bachelor’s and master's degrees. Sadly, in 2010, Jeremiah succumbed to his illness at the tender age of 10 years old.
“When I started my doctoral program, my son had a bone marrow transplant. My dissertation was about gun violence victims and the effects it had on their families,” Dr. Lewis-Kendrick. “So I started the process of interviewing families who have lost their kids through gun violence. It hit me full circle when my son died, and I decided to stop my doctoral program.”
In Jeremiah’s honor, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick established the Jeremiah Henry Kendrick Memorial Foundation in 2014. Her mission for the foundation is to help those in need who are battling sickle cell disease. Since the establishment of the foundation, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick has helped several sickle cell survivors in financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. She has helped sickle cell survivors who are college students to obtain scholarships.
“I didn’t lose my son tragically. He had an illness. So, over time we built this special relationship together. I knew that there would be a time that this day would come I just didn’t know when,” Dr. Lewis-Kendrick said. “Mentally, was I prepared? Yes. But I also have a relationship with God, and I understand who I am and whose I am. Also, not leaning on my own understanding but the understanding of the Word that I have sought and not just hearing people but reading for myself and getting that understanding for myself.”
In 2023, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick will open a support group for sickle cell disease survivors and their families within the Jeremiah Henry Kendrick Memorial Foundation.
Many people admire Dr. Lewis-Kendrick, from students to patients to family and friends. Her brave heart and desire to continue being a beacon of light for others is why people are easily drawn to her spirit. In the face of adversity, you can count on Dr. Lewis-Kendrick to rise to the occasion of being purposeful in everything she does.
Along with being a well-respected medical and community service figure, Dr. Lewis-Kendrick is also a co-author of W.O.M.B. Sister Chronicles: Women Overcoming Men Blues. In this book, she shares an honest story about dealing with and overcoming a toxic relationship. She also highlights within the book how other women can take their power back to heal themselves and find real love. The book was a catalyst for Dr. Lewis-Kendrick to create a relationship seminar for men and women, and one of the panelists includes Okeeba Jubalo, co-host of the popular relationship podcast, Roses & Brass Knuckles Podcast.
“When Keith Small’s had his fundraiser at the Okeeba Jubalo Fine Art Gallery, I was in attendance, and that’s how I was introduced to Okeeba Jubalo. I told him about the yearly relationship seminar I put together called Mimosa Moments: Love, Lust, and Lies,” Dr.
Lewis-Kendrick said. “After listening to Okeeba’s podcast, I knew that I wanted him to be a panelist for my relationship seminar.”
Dr. Lewis-Kendrick has a knack for helping others in multiple capacities. Her future venture is to help Black men with their mental and physical health by opening a men’s day spa in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I plan to open a men’s spa focusing on men and their health, grooming, and self-care. Oftentimes, men are overlooked and neglected in regards to who they are and what they bring to their family,” Dr. Lewis Kendrick said. “I want to provide men a safe space to receive a massage for the head, neck, and shoulders.”
A multi-talented woman, Dr. Lewis Kendrick can truly do it all. If she is passionate about a cause, an event, or a labor of love, you can be confident in the fact that Dr. Lewis Kendrick will be determined to make it accessible and inclusive for others.
The relationship seminar, Mimosa Moments, is known to bring a full crowd. If you plan to attend, purchase your ticket here.