From the Vivien T. Thomas Family: son-in-law Harold Norris, grand niece Sharon Spann, granddaughter Marcia Rasberry-Smith and her husband Eric Smith.
From Johns Hopkins University: Director of Surgery Robert Higgins, MD; Director of Heart Transplantation Ahmet Kilic, MD; and Administrator for Biophysics for Research for Baltimore Teens at the Krieger School, Siddeeqah Fichman.
From the creative team of Partners of the Heart, Director Andrea Kalin, Consulting Producer Skip Coblyn, and actor Chris Haley (who is also the Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery at the Maryland State Archives). Also featured in the film was journalist and author Fraser Smith.
"I did not understand when I was young that my uncle Vivien T. Thomas had assisted hundreds of medical students in the cardiac field. The magnitude of my uncle's genius makes me very proud; and every time a student hears this story, it allows his story to continue."
Sharon Spann, Thomas' grand niece
Journalist and author Fraser Smith discusses the history of the Civil Rights movement in Baltimore and how the city has changed over the decades.
Dr. Ahmet Kilic offers advice to students on the steps they need to take to get to medical school and shares his personal experiences in the operating room.
Dr. Robert Higgins shares how he was personally inspired by Vivien T. Thomas, and encourages students to reach out to him personally to arrange a visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital to observe doctors and nurses "in action."
Siddeeqah Fichmann talks to students about the Biophysics for Baltimore Teens Program at Johns Hopkins' Krieger School for Arts and Sciences. The internship program offers high school students the opportunity to conduct hands-on experience in the field of biophysics.
After the event, guests were invited on a tour of the Academy, which prepares disadvantaged youth for careers in science and medicine. In their third year, students are able to select a specific track, such as nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, sports medicine, biomedical science and emergency medicine.
The Academy has specially outfitted classrooms that simulate environments in those fields, including simulated hospital wards, ambulances and pharmacies - all built with the end goal of preparing students for careers right out of school or placing them on a fast track to medical school.
The tour concluded with a stop at the permanent Vivien T. Thomas display near the entrance of the Academy, created with Maryland Humanities support in 2017.
The exhibit features archival images of Vivien T. Thomas and newspaper clippings about his work, as well as props, costumes, and behind-the-scenes photos from Partners of the Heart.
"By providing the young people of this school district with invaluable knowledge, state-of-the-art tools, and dedicated support, the Academy has established a path to success for otherwise disadvantaged students, and a foundation upon which they can build robust careers. It is a case study that should be assessed and replicated across the nation."
Skip Coblyn - Consulting Producer, Partners of the Heart
During the Celebration of Excellence event in May 2019, the Academy was presented with an official proclamation from the Tennessee House of Representatives, memorializing Vivien T. Thomas for his remarkable accomplishments and contributions to the field of medicine. This proclamation will be included in the Academy archives and displayed for all to see. Plans are underway to approach the Maryland legislature to announce a similar proclamation in the state.
As part of the Celebration of Excellence program, 10 exceptional students from the Academy were given the opportunity to tour Johns Hopkins Hospital, where their school's namesake worked miracles for four decades, revolutionizing cardiac surgery and helping shape the next generation of doctors and technicians.
The highlight of the tour was a hands-on demonstration at the Hopkins Simulation Center, where students interacted with the state-of-the-art equipment that makes Hopkins one of the most prestigious teaching hospitals in the world.