Celebrating UK HealthCare’s African-American pioneers

In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of the African-Americans who have helped shape the story of UK HealthCare.

Their achievements and accomplishments span decades and have influenced the fields of science, medicine and health. Learn more about these individuals in the slideshow below.


Dr. Carl Watson

In 1959, Dr. Carl Watson was the first African-American to graduate from the UK College of Medicine. In 1963, Dr. Watson was among five hand-picked UK medical students to take part in an experimental study tour abroad. He served three months in Jamaica learning preventive medicine.

Dr. Clay Simpson Jr.


In 1958, Dr. Clay Simpson Jr. was the first African-American to graduate from the UK College of Public Health. In 1991, he was presented the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award by President George Bush. In 2004, Simpson was inducted into the UK College of Public Health Hall of Fame.

William Schultz

William Schultz, vice president of the Class of 1954, was the first African-American to graduate from the UK College of Pharmacy.

Marsha Hughes-Rease

In 1972, Marsha Hughes-Rease became the first African-American graduate from the UK College of Nursing and was commissioned as a Navy Nurse Corps officer shortly after graduation. She has been recognized as one of the college’s 50 outstanding alumni.

Dr. Benjamin Nero

In 1967, Dr. Benjamin Nero was the first African-American to graduate from the UK College of Dentistry. He traveled to Haiti to provide dental care to island residents and has mentored many dental students and young dentists.

 

Drs. Keisha Houston, Tourette Jackson and Regina Washington

In 2002, Dr. Keisha Houston, left, and Dr. Tourette Jackson, center, were the first African-American female graduates of the UK College of Public Health. In 2006, Dr. Regina Washington, right, was the first African-American female to earn a doctorate from the UK College of Public Health.

Drs. Melody Holliman Prinkleton and Michelle Ramsey

In 2008, Dr. Melody Holliman Prinkleton, left, and Dr. Michelle Ramsey, right, shared the honor of being the first African-Americans to graduate from UK with four degrees. Each earned two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and a doctorate degree. Both earned doctorates in physical therapy.


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