Memphis House Call from Noted New Jersey ER Doctor
The thought of giving back and paying it forward has always been at the forefront of my mind and actions. Partly because so many individuals helped me to reach heights that at one time appeared insurmountable. I was born, the fifth of six children, in one of America’s toughest cities –Newark, NJ. As a child, I was surrounded by fragmented homes and a surplus of drugs and crime. It was difficult, almost impossible to imagine a success story blossoming from my neighborhood. I remember clearly, as a child, my mother, enforcing education as the platform to success. She believed it would save my life and it did.
Education served as the bridge to my future all the while providing the escape from my immediate environment. I was resistant at first, mainly because education wasn’t a popular path taken in my neighborhood. It was a paradox, in the sense, if you did well academically you were called names like nerd or geek and if you stirred up trouble and mischief you were considered popular and well liked. What teenager doesn’t desire the admiration and praise of his peers? Fortunately, I was able to straddle both worlds blending in with the cool crowd and performing well academically.
I understood my mother’s words and realized my only hope to escape the blocks of Newark was through education. Still, I didn’t know how to explore the pathway to college. No one in my family had ever gone to college. Looking back now, the process appeared simple but at the time to a 16 year-old scrawny, misguided teenager, it was daunting and intimidating.
Along the way to higher education, I lost many friends to the temptations of the streets and the mirage of quick riches. I too fell victim, at times finding myself in trouble as a direct result of poor decisions. Fortunately, I managed to steady the course and made an unconventional promise with two of my high school friends. Together, like the 3 musketeers, we set out to blaze a path towards conquering the improbable. We would use our friendship as a shield preventing any entry of naysayers into our circle. We would use our smarts and ambition to go after a dream. Today we have achieved what many labeled impossible. Today we are doctors and our pact, our promise to one another to stick together and hold one another accountable, has been fulfilled.
I am a now a board certified emergency medicine physician, a New York Times Best Selling Author of The Pact, We Beat the Street, The Bond and recently published Living and Dying in Brick City. I’m also a professional speaker and have been honored to speak to many large audiences throughout the years. This year, my foundation, The Three Doctors Foundation, will celebrate its 15th year. This non-profit organization was created to give back to the community and pay homage to all that helped along the way. Highlighting health, education and mentoring, The Three Doctors Foundation hosts a variety of programs in New Jersey. The goals are centered around community, making education and health, popular and accessible.
Many of today youth I speak with want to pursue media popular careers like music and sports. The reality is that, only one or two, may reach a professional level in those arenas. My question is why not focus on something that offers more of a guarantee? Why not elevate academics? The aim is to glamorize education as fashionable and obtainable. Give it the same style and pizzaz that we give music, sports and entertainment. This process will allow education to attract more young minds.
My hope is to empower all students. Let’s get behind the youth and let them know we are here to lend a hand.
Thanks to FedEx, I recently had the opportunity to speak to the young minds and future leaders at Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School in Memphis, Tennessee. These sixth, seventh and eighth graders are filled with ambition and desire. They are willing to put in the necessary work and effort it takes to achieve success. I know this to be true because I witnessed it in their smiling faces, their bright eyes, their upright body posture and their convincing focus.
I see a great deal of myself in each one of The Grizzles students and realize, I was one of the lucky ones. If it wasn’t for my pact and the help of many individuals along the way like Carla Dickson, Dr. Linda Hsu, Reggie Brown, my mother and many others, I wouldn’t be here today and you certainly wouldn’t be reading this article.
Students everywhere want success. They want to matter in life. For this reason and many more, we must give back!
At the end of it all, there aren’t too many good feeling vibes like the joy of seeing a success story and knowing you had a little something to do with it. Make sure you do not to miss the opportunity.
“This man that came from a bad situation helped me and all of my class mates understand that if you put your mind to it then you can do it. Dr. Sampson helped me realize to take advantage of what I have so I can do whatever I want in life.” — Skylan Stephens, 8th grade
“I had a very interesting experience when Dr. Sampson Davis came. He talked about many things, such as how he grew up and what inspired him to become a better person. As a growing adult, I will take note of these words. I’ll learn to become a better man. Dr. Davis wants us to use our gifts wisely. I will always remember this day.”– Tye Ficklen, 8th grade
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