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Annual Summer Scholars Celebration

Pair of Watkins Doctors Inspire at Summer Scholars Lectureship

On July 13, high school students participating in Johns Hopkins Bayview’s Summer Scholars Program were invited to join Medical Center faculty and staff in the Grossi Auditorium for a special celebration celebrating their work this summer.

This year, the celebration was renamed in honor of the late Levi Watkins, Jr., M.D., a pioneer in both cardiac surgery and civil rights. Dr. Watkins’ niece, Crystal C. Watkins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Memory Clinic in the Neuropsychiatry Program at Sheppard Pratt, and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, inspired students with the inaugural keynote address.

In her address, Dr. Crystal Watkins told students of her own journey to a successful career in health care and research. “No one starts out as a pioneer or a legend,” she says her “Uncle Levi” once told her. “My mentors’ success has become my success. I want my success to become your success.”

​Every year, the Summer Scholars Program welcomes nearly 150 students to the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus. The program is partnership among the National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Johns Hopkins University. Researchers and faculty from these programs recruit under-represented minorities and those from underprivileged backgrounds with the goal of increasing diversity in academic medicine and science.

Dr. Levi Watkins is a fitting namesake for the Summer Scholars Lectureship. After joining the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1971, Dr. Watkins charted a career of historic firsts. In 1980, he performed the world’s first implantation of an automatic heart defibrillator in a human. In cardiac surgery, he became the first black chief resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and later the first African-American full professor. He was a tireless advocate for fairness and diversity, spearheading a drive to recruit minorities to Hopkins and establishing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.

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