John Monfredo: “Three Doctors” Inspire Worcester Tech Students
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Usually, two weeks before students sit down for the state exams, the entire student body and faculty take a field trip to The Hanover Theatre to hear a speaker who has overcome personal adversity to address students about the importance of overcoming obstacles and reaching their personal potential. Thanks to an anonymous donor the costs for these motivational occasions have been made possible.
As Principal Harrity stated, “Without our donor, these events would not be possible…Such programs are the cornerstone of our school’s effort to address the needs of our students and the challenges that they face as residents of our city. The reforms that have been undertaken in our school give students the vehicle they need to take them to a successful life. This assembly program and our school’s general focus on the importance of student success provide them with this motivation.”
This week the students had the pleasure of listening to Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, fondly known as “The Three Doctors” who serve as an extraordinary model of leadership for anyone who’s been through any kind of life challenge or major hardship.
As African American teenage boys growing up on the tough inner-city streets of Newark, New Jersey these three boys made a pact: they would stick together-go to college-graduate-and become doctors. Surrounded by negative influences in their life and getting into trouble with the law as teens they had few positive role models in their life. Thus the road to success was difficult but they learned to persevere. Now several years later, these three men have overcome countless obstacles and proudly bear the subtitle of doctor and serve as the face of health and education for youth and families across the country.
Prior to this field trip the students were well prepared by the staff on how the doctors did to overcame the many difficult obstacles in their life. The students and staff read their book, The Pack, a story about the power of friendship, the difficulties that they encountered, how they beat the odds and showed that anything is possible if you want it to happen. The book is a powerful message of hope to students who come from difficult circumstances. The student body also saw a documentary about their rise from poverty to fame and discussed the issues that the three men faced growing up in Newark, New Jersey.
The doctors entered the Hanover stage to a standing ovation and each doctor explained parts of their lives, their friendship and the impact of education. They all emphasized that it’s not where you start, but where you end up. As Doctor Davis indicated, “Education saved my life as he explained to the audience about one of his teenage friends being shot in an attempted robbery…Education was the passport to my future.” He spoke about being arrested as a teenager because he was hanging around with the wrong crowd and told the audience to hang out with good people and make smart decisions. He asked the students to accept accountability for their life and take the necessary steps to turn hopes and dreams into realities.
Dr. George Jenkins, a dentist, spoke about a teacher, Miss Johnson, who encouraged him to want to succeed and she told him that he was just passing through the neighborhood into life for the world was bigger than what they saw around them. Dr. Jenkins told how his friendship with the other two doctors made him a better person and how they learned from one another.
Dr. Hunt articulated the hardships that he faced in life and about the importance of hanging around with good people. He again and again told the students to stick with education and believe in yourself. “Do what you have to do to succeed and don’t be afraid to reach out to people who believe in you.”
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts one can give is the gift of self and these three men do it often and wholeheartedly. Dr. Hunt adds, “We have a compelling passion for speaking and telling our story. This is not to boast or brag, we just recognize that we are in head-to-head combat with drugs, mental and physical illnesses, teenage pregnancy and all kinds of abuse and we accept the responsibility of making a difference by being role models and touching lives.”
Today, Dr. Hunt is a Board certified internist at University Medical Center at Princeton and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Jenkins serves as Assistant Professor of Clinical Dentistry at Columbia University. Dr. Davis is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician at St. Michaels Medical Center and Raritan Bay Medical Center. Dr. Davis is also consultant for the Violence Prevention Institute focusing on gang awareness and preventative medicine in Essex County. The doctors, together, have also written three books.
During the last five years Worcester Technical High School has brought in a high caliber of speakers and they have inspired their students to reach for the “stars” and never give up. Their first speaker four years ago was Elizabeth Murray, who had an Emmy-nominated movie based on her life entitled, “From Homeless to Harvard. Ms. Murray’s parents were cocaine addicts who spent most of the family’s money on feeding their habit. She explained to her audience that she and her sister were neglected and often lacked food and warm clothes. By the age of 15, Liz was homeless. Her mother died of AIDS and her father was on the streets. As she explained to the students, she vowed after her mother’s death that her life would be different. She was resilient and refused to end up like her mother and decide that the best way to avoid that fate was to go back to school.
The second year at Hanover was Dr. Ben Carson author of the book, Gifted Hands. Growing up his classmates called him “dummy” and he developed a violent, uncontrollable temper. His mother was determined to turn her sons’ lives around and she did. In summary, the story of Ben Carson is about the American Dream. He went from a life of destitution and underachievement to becoming a gifted surgeon dedicating his life to the service of others. Because of his work as a neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has become a lifesaving hero for thousands of people.
Then came Erin Gruwell, a former teacher, who has the distinction of having a movie made about her making a difference in the lives of her students. The movie is entitled, The Freedom Writers. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, to reconsider daily decisions, and to focus on their future. With Erin’s steadfast support, her students shattered stereotypes to become critical thinkers, aspiring college students, and citizens for change. They even dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers”—in homage to civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders”—and published a book.
Last year, WTHS had Chris Gardner from the Pursuit of Happyness. Author Gardner explained his journey from homeless dad to millionaire stockbroker and it was the basis for his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, and the hit 2006 film of the same name starring Will Smith. His message of never giving up was most inspiring.
As you can see these dynamic speakers all came to our city of Worcester to help motivate our Tech students to greater heights with the financial backing of the anonymous donor. What a great gift WTHS has given their students! Well done!
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