MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - From Northside High School to Harvard University, Dr. Christina Rosenthal, wife and mother of three, didn't build her empire from an ivory tower. She fought for every inch.
"It took a village to raise me. I come from a single-parent home," Rosenthal said.
Dr. Christina Rosenthal completed a full-tuition fellowship at Harvard University and put in hard work to rise to the top.
"My mom had things that she was dealing with at the time, and I did not know my dad," Rosenthal said.
Growing up, she moved around a lot. Her godparents raised her, and she fought to excel at education at a young age.
"I would catch the 52, then the 31, so it's probably like a 45 minute ride," Rosenthal said. "I would have to get to the bus stop pretty early in the morning to get to school on time, and some mornings it was really really dark."
At the University of Memphis, Rosenthal started dating her future husband--the two originally met in junior high school.
"It took my husband to bring it to my attention that I had this weird fascination with teeth," Rosenthal said.
While on full scholarship, Rosenthal got pregnant during an already tumultuous senior year.
"My mother had been hospitalized, and I had someone tell me that I couldn't become a doctor because I got pregnant," Rosenthal explained.
But she pushed forward, marrying the father of her children and completing dental school at UT-Memphis.
Rosenthal then opened the Paradigm Dental Center in Hickory Hill.
Years later, Harvard came calling. Rosenthal had to leave her husband, sons, and dental practice for an entire year.
"I would order pizza online. I would help my son with homework via text message--we would Skype. I would order supplies through Walmart, and I would send them directly to the school, and I still had a practice to tend to," Rosenthal said. "I had patient concerns that were being addressed that I had to address. I met with my office manager weekly via Skype, and looked at the numbers every month to make sure that they were on track to still be open. So that was a lot to juggle. In addition to being a mom, being a practice owner, I was also a student."
Dr. Rosenthal makes time to give children a pipeline to becoming a doctor with her "Determined to be a Doctor Someday" initiative.
"It's all about just demonstrating possibility," she said.
The annual symposium exposes underprivileged youth to health care careers.
"I always said if I ever made it in life, if I ever became anything, I would go back to where it started and I would bring others along with me," Rosenthal added.
Rosenthal said what motivates her is adversity.
"In the end what I've recognized is every problem has a solution, and adversity for me is a motivator."
When asked what she would tell her younger self, Rosenthal had a lot to say.
"I would tell my younger self (I may get emotional, I'm trying not to cry). I would tell myself, 'You know, you're growing up in North Memphis, but it's OK. Because people who grew up in unfavorable conditions have a tenacity. They have a perseverance. They have a desire to want so much so badly,'" Rosenthal said. "That despite what's going on around you, you'll be okay. It's all there to make you stronger. It's all there to teach you lessons that you can't get elsewhere, and just keep pressing forward because you'll do great things."
Dr. Rosenthal stopped by the WMC Action News 5 studio to talk on Facebook Live about what drives her and explain her secrets to success. Watch that video below: