When Jeannette South-Paul was 12 years old she lived above the Helping Hand Mission in Philadelphia with her parents, sisters and brothers. At that early age she learned about working hard and the importance of faith and family. She also decided that she wanted to be a doctor. On Oct. 30 at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel, Dr. Jeanette E. South-Paul was honored as Gateway Medical Society 2010 Physician of the Year at the GMS Annual Scholarship Gala.
|CLOSING THE GAP—Leonard Weather Jr. (National Medical Association president), Dr. Margaret Larkins Pettigrew (GMS president), Dr. Catherine Udekwu (treasurer) and Dr. Jeanette South- Paul (Physician of the year).
GMS is a component society of the National Medical Association. More than 200 enjoyed the ambiance and attentive staff of one of Pittsburgh’s newest hotels. Following a scrumptious meal and a cheerful welcome from GMS President, Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, and mistress of ceremonies Lynne Hayes Freeland, the center piece of the evening was revealed, the video detailing the sojourn of the honoree.
Dr. South-Paul was the second child to Jamaican immigrant parents, Carl and Iris South. She was raised at the Helping Hand Mission in downtown Philadelphia where she learned about commitment to the socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged. She decided on a career in medicine and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. As a way to cover her future educational costs she joined the Army ROTC and ultimately secured an Army Health Professions Scholarship. Dr. South-Paul later matriculated in the University of Pittsburgh Class of 1979 and elected to enter an Army family medicine residency at Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Ft. Gordon, Ga.
There for the first time in her educational experience, she found multiple minority physician leaders to include the chairs of medicine and nuclear medicine, not to mention many residents, nurses and staff. Dr. South-Paul returned to Pittsburgh when she was approached to apply for the position of Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Following her appointment to the chair position, she realized that she was the first permanent woman chair of a department in Pitt’s School of Medicine, as well as the first African-American.
She says it has been an exciting journey with never a dull moment and many rewards. Dr. South- Paul says her greatest joy has been to be blessed with her husband and life partner, Dr. Michael Paul and sons Augustine and Benjamin and wonderfully supportive brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces.
The theme for the evening was “Closing the Gap” with Lee Grace Jones as event chair with co-chair Evan Frazier (Senior Vice President, Highmark, Inc.). GMS is working diligently to close the gap for young African-Americans that are pursuing a career in medicine. On this evening young mentees that plan to go into the field of medicine were introduced to the audience and scholarships were presented to three medical students Ben Cobb, Adia Kelly and David Mazariegos.
The scholarships were matched in part by NEED. GMS also honored Dr. Jolene Brown Lowery. Lowery is an Endocrinologist that recently completed a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. Lowery has accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine and is now living in Atlanta.