newsmakers: Sampson Davis, MD, Rameck Hunt, MD, George Jenkins, DMD
Good Housekeeping, USA Today, The Star-Ledger, Associated Press
Sampson Davis, MD, Rameck Hunt, MD, and George Jenkins, DMD
Strength in Numbers
by Jill Spotz
Sometimes people are drawn together for reasons they may not know at the time. At least that's what George Jenkins thinks. As a young boy growing up on Muhammed Ali Avenue in Newark, Jenkins' morals were tested numerous times but his stable family background kept him on the right path. Blocks away, Sampson Davis and Rameck Hunt were facing similar pressures from peers. Simultaneously, the three boys were struggling to keep their heads up in neighborhoods where young black men often fall through the cracks. That was about to change.
In 1985, their paths crossed when they were handpicked to attend University High School, a magnet school in Newark. Davis, Hunt and Jenkins saw similarities in each other and developed a bond. Jenkins attributes the connection to the same "core desire to make something of our lives." They quickly became friends. At a career day, a representative from Seton Hall University spoke about a pre-medical/pre-dental program financed through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Jenkins became immediately interested. "Why don't we do this together?" he suggested. Although not realizing the impact that the agreement would have on their lives, the three young men made a promise to each other to become doctors.
Fast forward several years as Jenkins juggles his time as an instructor and faculty member in the Community Health Department at UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School (NJDS). Hunt is Director of St. Peter's University Hospital's How Lane Adult Family Health Center and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and Davis is an emergency medicine physician and Director of Community Outreach at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
Jenkins reflects on their journey to become physicians. "I learned that you have to surround yourself with positive people," he explains. "The only reason the three of us stuck with our agreement was because we supported each other when we needed it. The positive peer pressure was enormous and contributed to our success. When one of us would get an A, the others would say, 'I'm going to study harder to get an A, too." Davis, Hunt and Jenkins were among 110 EOP students to attend Seton Hall, with no more than a dozen in the pre-medical/pre-dental program. Determined to succeed, they excelled in school and were accepted to RWJMS and NJDS. When they graduated from medical and dental schools, a reporter from The Star-Ledger interviewed them for a story. The headline read: "The Start of Something Big."
Sometimes people are drawn together to help others. Neither Davis, Hunt nor Jenkins predicted the media blitz that was about to happen. As a result of the Ledger article, community groups began to solicit the three doctors for speaking engagements. They were no longer perceived as separate individuals; instead, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins became the "three docs." The instant publicity offered them an opportunity to give back to the community. They established a nonprofit organization called the Three Doctors Foundation to fund educational programs for children living in underprivileged communities. Their calendars are full. They completed a book - The Pact - that made the New York Times bestsellers list in 2004. Their Foundation has sponsored many programs, including mentor days, community fairs, health screenings and fundraisers. The Community Care fundraiser in May features guest speakers Bill Cosby, Kweisi Mfume, past president of the NAACP, and Linda Lopez, WCBS-TV News anchor.
These days, Davis, Hunt and Jenkins are working on several projects, including a children's book due out in the spring entitled We Beat the Street, which is an adaptation of The Pact for a younger audience. They are also working on a "Healthy Mind Body" speaking tour which will promote a fun way of staying healthy for children. The city of Philadelphia has already contributed half the funds needed for the tour to their area. Another project in the works is a mentor message board to be housed on their Web site: www.threedoctors.com, offering more than just a site to post questions and solicit advice. Mentors and students will be paired together to forge the needed ongoing support. The three docs have received many offers from physicians who want to help. The message board gives them the opportunity to log in when they have time and answer questions. Like this one, Jenkins explains that many of their projects do not come to fruition right away because it "just isn't the right time," so they often choose the path (or project) of least resistance.
Looking back, Jenkins explains that it is tough to look outside of your environment when all you see is failure. Perseverance and support helped them to see beyond Newark's city line. And it brought them back home.