hero_alum_world.jpg
  • Alumni Changing
  • the World

Since 1976, National Black History Month has had an endorsed theme as a part of the celebration. For 2022, the theme is “Black Health and Wellness.” This month’s spotlight features a small group of Black GDS Alumni who have dedicated their lives helping others through careers in these areas. 

Introducing...Dr. Venus I. Pitts, MD 88

Dr. Venus I. Pitts, MD ’88 is a physician in internal medicine and the current medical and laboratory director of Premiere Health and Wellness Medical Center in North Carolina. She received a BS in Biology from Yale University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She is Board certified in Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine, and Obesity Medicine. Additionally, she has training in Pediatrics and Medical Acupuncture. Venus's medical practice, Premiere Health and Wellness Medical Center, has office locations in Durham, NC and Roanoke Rapids, NC. She is also the medical director of two mental health agencies that primarily serve children.  

What drew you to Health and Wellness as a career?
My parents encouraged me to consider becoming a physician at a very early age—we talked about it from the time I learned to talk. I always enjoyed math and science, so that seemed to be a good fit for a future career in medicine.   As I continued my studies in high school, I developed a variety of interests in different areas of medicine, especially for illnesses that did not have adequate treatments or a high likelihood of achieving a cure at that time. I felt moved to make a difference in the lives of people who had been given devastating diagnoses of incurable cancers or HIV. I also enjoyed learning about nutrition and discovering natural ways to heal the body and prevent disease. Over time, I learned that my decision to become a physician was more than a career choice; it was a calling that I was determined to answer.

How did your time at GDS impact your career choice(s)? 
I had essentially decided to become a doctor long before my time at GDS. At the time that I first entered GDS, I had only met one African-American physician previously. I had not yet seen an African-American woman who was a physician. Having never seen a Black female doctor before, I did not have any role models to motivate me along the way. It was hard to believe that I could make this dream come true. During my time at GDS, I encountered a variety of challenges that stretched me and led me to discover new abilities that I did not know I had. I learned to think in ways I never had before and to find creative ways to problem solve. These accomplishments gave me the added belief that I could become a physician, in spite of the challenges that I faced.

 Can you share a memory from your time at GDS?
When I met with Kevin Barr, my college advisor, at the start of the second semester of eleventh grade, we discussed the numerous things I needed to do as I prepared to go to college. He gave me a list of schools that he thought I should consider, and he suggested that I go to the library to get more information on colleges. I immediately followed his recommendation and went to the library the next day to begin my college research. That day, I read a book that identified Yale University as the best undergraduate school and Harvard Medical School as the best medical school. I decided that same day that those were the two schools I would attend.

  • Alumni
  • STEM

More Profiles

Headshot of David Reich ’92

Professor of Genetics and Principal Investigator, Harvard Medical School’s Reich Lab

  • STEM
Dr. Venus I. Pitts, MD ’88

Physician (Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine, and Obesity Medicine) and Medical Director at mental health agencies

  • Alumni
  • STEM
Elliot Ackerman ’98

Novelist, journalist, and recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart

  • Writers