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255 Graduate from Berea

May 25: Pediatric neurosurgeon, author and inspirational leader Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D., urged seniors graduating from Berea College this afternoon to use their talents in the service of others.

2008 Commencement

Hear Joshua Noah and Ashley Long sing ''The Prayer.''

“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon,” said the brain surgeon, “to know there are a lot of things we need to change in this country,” citing particularly shortcomings related to education. “All of us have a sphere of influence. Use your talents in that sphere of influence to bring about change, to elevate someone else.” After illustrating what an incredible instrument the human brain is, Carson noted that “so if you have a normal brain, you’re a genius, you can do anything.”

Carson’s remarks preceded the awarding of degrees to 255 seniors and recognition of an additional 28 who are expected to graduate at the end of the summer. Berea College also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Carson.

Awards to two graduates and three College staff members also were presented at the ceremony, held in Seabury Center.

The Hilda Welch Wood Award for outstanding achievement by a female student went to Rachel Marie Saunders, who received a bachelor of arts degree in biology. The T.J. Wood Award for outstanding achievement by a male student went to Jonathan Jamal Hunt of Cornelius, Ore., who graduated at mid-year with a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics.

Berea’s highest faculty honor, the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching, was presented to Dr. Ron Rosen, professor of biology. Rosen holds a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, M.S. from Colorado State University and earned his bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College. He has been a member of Berea’s faculty since 1989. Dr. Ralph Thompson, professor of biology, was awarded the Paul C. Hager Award for Excellence in Advising. Thesesa Lowder, associate director of student financial aid services at Berea received the Elizabeth Perry Miles Award for Community Service for her volunteer work with the Berea Festival Dancers and support of country dance activities both in Berea and elsewhere.

Earlier in the day, Rev. Dr. Daniel P. Mathews, rector emeritus of Trinity Church Wall Street New York, spoke at the morning Baccalaureate Service. The day’s other public events included the traditional Nurses Pinning Service and a reception the College quadrangle for graduates and guests.

Dr. Benjamin Carson has been director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, since 1984 when, at the age of 33, he became the youngest physician ever at Johns Hopkins to head a major division. He is also professor of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, oncology, and pediatrics. He operates on more than 300 children every year at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland and is sought out around the world for his expertise in separating conjoined twins and conducting brain surgery to control seizures.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1951, Carson overcame enormous challenges in his youth to earn a scholarship to Yale University where he received his B.A. in psychology, then went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School. The author of more than 100 neurosurgical publications, Carson is the author of four best-selling books, “Gifted Hands,” “THINK BIG,” “The Big Picture,” and very recently “Take The Risk.” Berea College’s honorary degree will mark Carson’s 51st honorary doctorate, and he has also been awarded dozens of national citations of merit as well as hundreds of other honors and awards. The Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts in Maryland has produced a one-act play, “Ben Carson, M.D.” about his triumph over adversity.

With his wife, Candy, Carson also is the co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, a non-profit organization that has awarded over 3400 college scholarships to students who strive for academic excellence and demonstrate a strong commitment to their community.

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