Department of
Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Dr. William Simmons Honored with Jefferson Award for Volunteerism


Congratulations to William Simmons, MD, who was one of three mentors in Gateway Medical Society’s Journey to Medicine Academic Mentorship Program (the other mentors were Anita Edwards, MD of Highmark and Jan Madison, MD of Jefferson Hospital) selected to receive the Jefferson Award for Volunteerism, the highest award for volunteerism in the nation, in June 2016 in Washington, DC.

The Jefferson Awards program is the country's longest-standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. The program was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard. As one of 50 Jefferson Award recipients chosen throughout Western Pennsylvania, Dr. Simmons and his fellow Journey to Medicine mentors will be honored in an ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a reception and ceremony held in the spring of 2016. At this ceremony, the mentors received the Jefferson Award and a bronze medallion commissioned by the Franklin Mint. 

Journey to medicine is a pre-college academic mentorship program to increase the number of minority males on the path toward careers in medicine by reaching students early in their schooling. The program started in February of 2010 with 15 African American male students from the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Currently, 82 males in grades six to 11 are enrolled. Many of these students consistently earn 4.0 GPAs on their academic reports and have very low rates of absenteeism. All fifteen of last year’s graduating 8th graders were on the honor roll and were all accepted into the advanced placement segments of their chosen high schools. Five of 10 students in the 11th grade Journey to Medicine cohort were inducted into the National Honor Society. Under the leadership of Drs. Simmons, Madison, and Edwards, Journey to Medicine was recently awarded partner status with the Pittsburgh Public School System.

Dr. Rhonda Johnson (Pediatrician and Administrator, Highmark BCBS) praised the awardees in her nomination letter: “Through their service to the Journey to Medicine program of the Gateway Medical Society, Drs. Simmons, Madison, and Edwards are doing far more than helping to create a pipeline of future physicians (African American men constitute the lowest represented demographic group in American medical schools today). They are inspiring these young students to stay in school, fostering self-esteem, and instilling hope for their futures.”