President’s Blog – Higher Education Matters:

Thoughts from Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross

Archive for May, 2011

Commencement Inspiration from a Surgeon and a Chef

Monday, May 9th, 2011 by Karen Gross

President Gross with Honorary Degree Recipients Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa and Marcus Samuelsson

I was struck at SVC’s 84th Commencement by the poignancy of the remarks of both of our Honorary Degree Recipients, award-winning neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quinones Hinojosa of Johns Hopkins and Top Master Chef Marcus Samuelsson.  Both speakers credited their families who inspired their journeys.  Marcus Samuelsson spoke of the influence of his Swedish grandmother’s cooking, and Alfredo Quinones Hinojosa quoted his Mexican grandfather, Juan Quinones, whose words about navigating adversity have stayed with him. 

The speakers shared other key messages. Here are some from Marcus Samuelsson: “Be grateful;”  “Be passionate; keep asking questions;”  and  “Through food, you can learn so much about peoples’ lives.”

Here are a few from Dr. Q: “Find the steel in your soul;”  “When the days are dark, ….let the stars  guide you at night;” and  “There is no substitute for hard work.”

It’s not uncommon for commencement speakers to be trite, but neither speaker at SVC’s 84th Commencement was.   Their wisdom, their zest for living and their commitment to giving back shone through (as did the sun).  I hope their messages stay with our graduates as they move into the next phase of their lives.