Doctor trio said a supporting and encouraging environment in the classroom reinforces learning.
By Sergio Medina
Dr. Rameck Hunt told an audience of about 600 that split-second decisions are life-changing and at a young age, it’s easy to make bad choices.
“I got locked up from when I was a teenager for attempted murder,” he said. “That was a life-changing event.”
Fellow doctors Sampson Davis and George Jenkins accompanied Hunt Sept. 19 for “The Pact,” part of St. Philip’s President’s Lecture Series in the auditorium of Watson Fine Arts Center.
Hunt continued, “The one thing I try to tell young people is, when you get that split-second decision, the clock starts ticking like tick, tick, tick, tick, and you have to decide if you’re going to do that drug, or if you’re going to beat this person up, or you’re going to have sex, and it goes all in a split-second, and you know what the right answer is, you know what your heart is telling you — ‘I shouldn’t do that, right?’”
The three doctors have been friends since they met as freshmen in 1987 at University High School in Newark, N.J.
Hunt said sticking by Davis and Jenkins after deciding what kind of people he wanted in his social circle, people who had a mindset to pursue a career, allowed him to be where he is now.
“What was in it for me was these two guys,” Hunt said. “They helped to change and save my life.”
With a breaking voice, Hunt said he was grateful.
Jenkins said young people should seek their peers from among individuals who have a drive to serve their communities.
Davis said he was the first in his family to go to college.
He said giving back is a trait that enriches not only the community one is serving but one’s self.
He said his mother’s compassion strongly influenced him as a child.
“She did not have much to give, but we had what we called a policy,” Davis said. “Two bedrooms, six of us. I mean, cousins, friends, people going through hard times could come stay with us, sleep in the living room, on the floor, whatever, and she never turned anyone away.
“That sort of compassion, I learned how to be a doctor from her,” he said.
The trio grew up economically challenged, but that did not stop them from pursuing their goals to become doctors.
They obtained bachelor’s degrees in science from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
Davis and Hunt obtained their medical degrees from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., and Jenkins earned a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry from the New Jersey Dental School.
Choosing people who positively influence one’s life is key in molding a successful career, Jenkins said. Positive peer pressure is just as powerful as the negative, he said.
Referring to instructors, Hunt said positive encouragement is important in the classroom and has the ability to shape a student’s mind.
As an example, Hunt recalled one of his teachers from his time in elementary school, teaching him how to spell words such as hypothesis.
“And then she’d go, ‘Oh my god, you’re the smartest kid I’ve ever met!’ and I believed it!” Hunt said.
A boost in confidence and positive energy reinforces the student to remember with more ease, he said.
Jenkins said that while cliché, allowing students to believe they can be anything they want is a powerful incentive in the classroom.
Sonography sophomore Allysa Mann said in an interview after the event the most impactful lesson from the session was not letting the past influence her.
“Like they were saying, they were from a poor family; they actually became doctors,” she said. “I’m actually from a poor family so I know not to have that define me.”
Ciera Lindsey, senior from Memorial Early College High School in New Braunfels, said in an interview it was inspiring to see the doctors triumph despite adversity.
“They knew they wanted to make a difference in the world, and they didn’t let anything stop them,” she said.
Dr. Adena Williams Loston, president of St. Philip’s College, said in an interview the president’s series are held annually.
“We’re looking for individuals who have a story to tell, who can connect with our students, who can connect with our community,” she said.
For more information on the lecture series, email Christina Cortez, dean of student success, at firstname.lastname@example.org.