Physicians Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins are lucky to be alive. Surrounded by negative influences and having few positive role models as teenagers, they made a pact in high school to stick together, go to college, graduate and become doctors. That premeditated decision helped to determine the fate of these Newark, N.J., natives.
While survival, not scholastic success, was the priority for many of their peers, these three could easily have followed their childhood friends into drug dealing, gangs, and prison.
Instead they took another path, one that recently led them to Pasadena City College (PCC), where they entered the auditorium to a standing ovation from several hundred young adults.
“The Three Doctors,” as they are self-named, spoke candidly about their life experiences as examples of how to overcome extraordinary challenges to become positive role models.
Listening to their stories, the obstacles they had to overcome became evident.
As a teen, Davis was arrested after he and neighborhood friends attempted to rob local drug dealers. He was incarcerated for several weeks. A plea deal was struck, and Sampson was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence and two year’s probation.
One of the more compelling stories was shared by Hunt. He recalls being a troubled youngster, lacking structure and direction. As a teen, he was arrested in a stabbing attack. However, he only spent four days in a detention center. After a third hearing, he was sent home because the junkie he stabbed refused to appear in court. Hunt came to realize he did not want to waste away his life in jail.
Jenkins recalled how dejected he felt after receiving a low math score on his college entrance exam. “My score was in bo-bo land, I totally blew it,” he said. It proved to be a wakeup call for him, because he realized that although he was academically gifted, it wasn’t good enough for college. However, he committed to improve, thanks in part to the motivation of his two friends.
The three agree that they made many mistakes but eventually learned from them and recognized that education was needed to achieve a better life.
“We’re on a crusade to bring attention to education as a positive thing,” Davis said.
The New York Times best-selling authors of three books, “The Pact,” “We Beat the Street” and “The Bond,” are viewed as heroes by many. However, they share a unique kinship with today’s youth.
The doctors says they are energized by the positive responses of audiences throughout the country. Traveling across the U.S., their motivational message has put them in high demand.
Student Davontae Young, 19, said: “It was easy to relate to someone who has gone through what I’ve experienced.”
According to student Jordan Mitchell, 19, “When you have someone speaking to you and it touches your life, you will pay attention.”
Jenkins explained that the doctors’ goal is to guarantee that more young people succeed by graduating school and becoming leaders. “You fail largely because of self-imposed obstacles,” he told the audience.
Judging from the student response, the doctors may have mobilized a demographic yearning for activism to call their own. “We didn’t plan this, it just happen,” said Hunt. “Once we started writing the first book it became clear, we have a formula.”
“…we try to make education as appealing as pro sports and entertainment. We want to make education hip, colorful, and infectious. We’re trying to put education on the same platform as celebrity.”
Before departing, The Three Doctors urged the students in attendance to make a friendship pact, and take on the biggest challenge of their lives–completing college and becoming leaders.
Right now, most of the doctors’ work is done through their Newark-based organization called The Doctor’s Foundation. It sponsors programs encompassing health, education, leadership and mentoring, concepts that are fundamental for young people to achieve success.
Recently, in an effort to expand their audience, the doctors met with DeMaurice Smith, executive director National Football League Players Association. They hope this relationship will allow them broader appeal while spotlighting celebrity role models.
In 2012, the trio will roll out their first national program in conjunction with Aetna Insurance, called The Fitness Pact Pledge. This competitive program will encourage college-age youth to track, modify, and report health and fitness-related activities.