Three doctors whose story inspired a best-selling novel and earned them a spot among Essence’s 40 Most Influential African Americans paid a surprise visit to Northside High School Monday, a fitting finale for the school community that just finished reading and reviewing the doctors’ wildly successful character-building book.
Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt — three friends who grew up in the housing projects of Newark, New Jersey, and followed through on their promise to become doctors — wrote a book about their experiences, “The Pact,” which landed on The New York Times bestsellers’ list and has been featured with the authors in People magazine and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It’s one of the character-building books Northside Principal Melinda Voorhies selected for the entire school community — students, teacher, janitors, cafeteria workers, everyone — to read and review as part of her turnaround plan for the district’s poorest performing high school.
“One day all of you guys are going to have to take care of yourself. Have you thought about how you’re going to do that?” Jenkins said to a crowd of students piled into the NHS gym. “The quality of your life depends on your actions today. Education is the surest way to achieve that.”
Monday’s event marks the second occasion on which the students got a chance to meet an inspirational author they had just finished studying. According to LPSS Marketing Director Angie Simoneaux, retired LSU basketball coach Dale Brown spoke at Northside a few weeks ago and gave each of the students a free copy of his book, “The Four Hurdles of Life.”
The visit from the inspirational doctors had been planned for more than a month, Simoneaux says, though no one outside of Voorhies’ administrative staff knew about the surprise event.
“Get all the As you can,” Sampson told the students. “I don’t know anything cooler than being educated. The ones calling you a nerd today, they’ll be calling you boss tomorrow.”
Read more on Northside’s turnaround efforts in The Independent’s March 6 cover story, “Viking Pride.”