skip to Main Content
Consuelo M. Sousa

AAP News

The childhood dream to become a doctor turned into reality for Consuelo M. Sousa (1931-2001) when she graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in 1958. A New Bedford native raised in the Cape Verdean community of Bay Village, Consuelo balanced work and family to become a leading pediatrician and dedicated mother.

The childhood dream to become a doctor turned into reality for Consuelo M. Sousa (1931-2001) when she graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in 1958. A New Bedford native raised in the Cape Verdean community of Bay Village, Consuelo balanced work and family to become a leading pediatrician and dedicated mother.

The eldest of nine children born to textile mill worker Edward R. Sousa and Candida Helena (Rogers) Sousa, Consuelo persevered to reach her educational goals. While a student at New Bedford High School, Consuelo was an editor of its newspaper the Crimson Courier; she was also a member of the Junior Red Cross and the Dramatic Club. After her high school graduation in 1949, she entered Howard University as a pre-medical student that fall. She received scholarships from the Seamen’s Memorial Fund, the Textile Workers Union of America (AFL-CIO), and the Cosmopolitan Educational and Charitable Society. With her parents doing all that they could, Consuelo also worked after school and during summers to help pay for her education. She worked for many summers at St. Luke’s Hospital as a ward secretary.

Support for Consuelo and her dream came from the community as well. As a babysitter for Mrs. Juliet Maxim of South Dartmouth, Consuelo gained the encouragement of the Maxim family, including Juliet’s father Basil Brewer, former publisher of The Standard-Times. Grateful for their support, Consuelo invited Mr. and Mrs. Brewer to her 1958 medical school graduation. Mrs. Brewer remembered, “She was a perfectly splendid girl. She was so earnest. She knew what she wanted and worked steadily toward that goal.”

In 1954, Consuelo earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Howard University. She had been accepted at more than one medical school, including Pennsylvania Medical College for Women and McGill, but she chose to remain at Howard, a top-ranked historically Black university, at the Howard University College of Medicine. She would meet her future husband Timothy L. Stephens Jr. in medical school, and the couple married and had a son before her medical school graduation in 1958. Her New Bedford family traveled down to Washington to see Consuelo receive her M.D. degree, likely the proudest moment of their lives. Consuelo’s parents Edward and Candida, her grandmother Rose and her aunt Anna Rocha all made the road trip to celebrate.

After medical school, Consuelo returned to New Bedford for a one-year internship at St. Luke’s Hospital, where she worked with her sister Carolyn, a nursing student assigned to St. Luke’s as well. She then completed a two-year pediatric residency elsewhere, eventually settling in Ohio with her husband Timothy Stephens Jr., who became the first African American surgeon in the state. Consuelo would rise up to become Chief of Pediatrics at Hough Norwood Family Health Care Center in Cleveland. A lifelong learner, she also earned a Master of Public Health and Master of Business Administration to become a health care administrator.

Consuelo passed away on October 17, 2001 at the age of 70. Her husband established the Consuelo M. Sousa, M.D. Scholarship ($2,500) through the Howard University Medical Alumni Association in memory of Consuelo, dedicated pediatrician, administrator and mother. The scholarship is awarded annually to an African American woman medical student at Howard who shows unwavering dedication to medicine and family. Two of Consuelo’s three children went on to become physicians.

Ann O’Leary

Information from

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Back To Top
Translate »