Alumni Feature: Donnis Hobson ’66

When Donnis Hobson graduated from Roycemore in 1966, it was a class of all girls. She sought out a co-ed experience and became the first student from Roycemore to be accepted to Stanford University. It set such a precedent that Stanford came to visit her at Roycemore to ensure the candidate and school were a good fit. At the time, Stanford could only accept 400 women per class of 1200 students. It would be among the first times that Donnis Hobson was in an environment dominated by men.

In 1966 the country was just beginning to see women pursuing careers and families at the same time. Pursuing a career in medicine was all the rarer. When she advanced to the University of Chicago for her MD, she was one of 15 women in a cohort of 90 medical students. When she secured her surgical internship at Northwestern Hospital she was the only female of 30 interns in the surgery rotation. Dr. Donnis Hobson was the 3rd woman ever admitted to the plastics program at Northwestern. Not only was she among the first female board-certified plastic surgeons, she was #769 of Board Certifications in plastic surgery in the entire country.  When she opened her first practice in plastics, she served with the first board-certified African American woman in the country.

Donnis had a great start in her career, and it was Roycemore that gave it to her. Donnis’ father served on the Board of Trustees with Dr. Hal Griffith whose children attended Roycemore as well. Dr. Griffith was the first Chief of Plastic Surgery at Northwestern. Dr. Griffith took Donnis under his wing and inspired her to pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. “He gave me great opportunities when I came back to do my plastics residency. Imagine a 4th-year medical student sewing up after the Chief! If I did it imperfectly, he would remove the stitches and have me do it again. It was an incredible experience and I had that because of Roycemore.”

Donnis is now retired. After 25 years in practice including private practice in pediatric plastics, breast reconstruction and her recent service to San Mateo county helping prisoners, the uninsured and other vulnerable populations, she looks forward to what may come next. In between those years, she managed to shepherd a marriage of 46 years, raise children who now have children of their own She even completed an MBA from San Francisco State.

“I set these goals as a kid, to be a doctor and to have a family. Maybe I should have done more – maybe there is more left to do.”