Attendees filed in at 8 a.m., ready to claim their nametags and get in line for the breakfast buffet.
The Leadership Breakfast honors King’s legacy, Vicki Roberts, associate vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, said.
It’s a breakfast because, during his career, King could often only meet early in the morning to avoid trouble and danger.
Shortly after the breakfast plates were cleared, the first speaker took the microphone.
Martin McCrory, the vice provost for Educational Inclusion and Diversity, provided opening remarks for the speaker portion of the event.
President McRobbie greeted the audience through a video, and Provost Lauren Robel addressed the audience.
Later Mohammed Torabi, the dean of the School of Public Health, introduced doctors Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, a trio of motivational speakers known as “The Three Doctors.”
Davis, Hunt and Jenkins all shared their backgrounds during their talks.
When they were younger, the trio grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Newark, N.J.
One day they decided to skip their second period social science class in high school, Davis said.
“We had it all planned out, we all knew how we were going to get out of class,” Davis said.
Their plans were thwarted when, as they were making their way to the gym, a security guard blocked their path. The school principal stood at another entrance and they were trapped.
“The library doors that were never open were open on this day,” Davis said.
The boys saw their chance to escape.
They made their way into the library, where a seminar was taking place. The subject was the new pre-med and dental program at Seton Hall University.
And that day, they made a pact to become doctors.
The focus of Davis’, Hunt’s and Jenkins’ speeches was the idea of “paying it forward,” which Davis said King did.
“We want to leave a legacy for kids to see that they can become something other than what they see in the inner city,” Davis said.
He said too many kids in poorer neighborhoods today give up on themselves in the fifth and sixth grades.
“They think it is uncool to participate in school anymore,” Davis said. “Whenever I meet kids who seem to be lacking focus, I tell them, ‘They can call you ‘nerd’ today, but they will be calling you ‘boss’ tomorrow.’”
All three doctors spoke about their stories and how they were inspired to “pay it forward” after special people in their lives did the same for them.
They credited their success to Carla Dixon, their mentor at Seton Hall.
“After she interviewed us, she did everything in her power to make sure we stayed together,” Hunt said.
The pre-med/pre-dental program was new at Seton Hall the year they enrolled. There were only ten slots, Hunt said.
“If Dixon chose us, then that meant three candidates came from the same high school,” Hunt said. “That couldn’t be practical, but Dixon did everything she could and got us all in.”
Davis, Hunt and Jenkins said they all had people who wanted to see them become something more than what they were used to seeing in the inner city.
Jenkins said his third grade teacher exposed him and his classmates to the world though field trips.
Hunt’s inspiration was a teacher as well.
“A teacher of mine early on taught me how to spell ‘hypothesis,’ and after I did she said I was the smartest boy she ever knew,” he said. “I held onto that.”
Jenkins said the doctors held onto each other and the encouraging and inspiring words from others to get them through their education.
Jenkins, a dentist, said he struggled more than Davis or Hunt.
“When I had my weak days and would see these guys studying, that is what made me turn around and go study,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins encouraged students at the breakfast to find a group, person or professor who believes in their dreams as much as they do.
“Having these guys was just what I needed when I started to doubt myself on becoming a dentist and lowering my standards,” Jenkins said of Davis and Hunt.
“Wanting to stay up with them, like in a race, was my motivation. If I could see their shoulders from the back, I had to run a little harder to catch up.”
Hunt, who is an internist and internal medicine physician, turned his talk toward the faculty at the breakfast.
He emphasized how much encouragement and inspiration — he called it “the E and I” — can mean to a student.
The doctors have released three books — “The Pact,” “We Beat the Street” and “The Bond” — and gave the audience a book signing after the lecture event.
Following the book signing, the doctors ate lunch with several IU student
Jenkins left the crowd with food for thought.
“The world has so much more to offer other than the living conditions where you grew up,” he said. “You just need one person to help you see this and you can have anything in the world.”
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