Dr. Gary J. Sheppard, B.A. '87

Alumnus of the Year

Coldspring, Texas, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents, is nestled between Sam Houston National Forest and Lake Livingston, roughly 75 miles northeast of Houston’s Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. It can feel much further from Coldspring’s halcyon streets to the bustling boulevards of Houston, America’s fourth-largest city.

Dr. Gary J. Sheppard, B.A. ’87, was born and raised in Coldspring but spent much of his childhood and teen years visiting family and participating in various activities in Houston. Today, Dr. Sheppard is an internal medicine physician in private practice and offices at Memorial Hermann Southwest.

Dr. Sheppard attended a two-week Farm Bureau leadership program on Baylor’s campus while in high school, and it was thereafter that his mind was set on attending the University as a pre-med major. His career aspirations developed through his love of science in middle school.

“That support I always got from my church family back home was continued at Baylor.”

“After the first semester, I was concerned about not being able to keep up,” Dr. Sheppard says. “But I did just as well as everybody else. My faith was a big part of being able to confront self-doubt. That support I always got from my church family back home was continued at Baylor.”

After graduating from Baylor, Dr. Sheppard earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He completed his residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and he joined Southwest Memorial Physicians Associates in 1994 where today he is a partner in the practice.

Dr. Sheppard’s is a life of service to others as a physician, a community volunteer and a participant in numerous professional medical organizations. He is on the Board of Trustees at Houston’s Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, where he is the handbell choir director and has served through the church’s Courtesy Corps for more than four decades.

It was in his third year of medical school that Dr. Sheppard settled on being an internist. He liked the idea of longitudinal care — being able to care for patients and their families for the duration of their lives. Dr. Sheppard has been a strong advocate for the healthcare needs of underserved populations.

“My two main interests are high blood pressure and diabetes,” Dr. Sheppard says. “It’s rare for me to go through a day not seeing half my patients either have high blood pressure or diabetes or both.”

Dr. Sheppard, who was the first African American chief of staff at Memorial Hermann Southwest, is president of the Harris County Medical Society — the nation’s largest county medical society. He previously was chair of the National Medical Association and served on the trustee board for the MD Anderson Cancer Center for Research on Minority Health.

Through his decorated career, Dr. Sheppard has exhibited a humble spirit and a focus on serving others. He is a reflection of talent and personality bestowed upon him by God.

“You have to learn to use what you’ve been given, your gifts and talents,” Dr. Sheppard says. “If I can develop a rapport with my patients and then make a difference for them, then I’m doing my job.”