Award-winning Neurosurgeon Addresses Southern Vermont College's Class of 2011

May 9, 2011

Photo #1: Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross introduces Top Chef Marcus Samuelsson, seated behind her, to receive an Honorary Degree at the 84th Commencement exercises at the College Saturday. Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, pictured at right, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, also received a degree and addressed 112 graduates as Commencement speaker.

Photo #2:  Garang Ayang, a History & Politics major who came to Vermont as one of the ‘lost boys’ of Sudan, graduated from Southern Vermont College on Saturday and was awarded the William A. Glasser Award for outstanding personal achievement.

Photo credit: Michael Lavin Flower
Award-winning Neurosurgeon Addresses Southern Vermont College’s Class of 2011

(BENNINGTON, Vt.) – After receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College on Saturday, Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine encouraged the Class of 2011, “to find the steel in your soul . . . , no matter what and keep moving forward.” A migrant farmer from Mexico who spent his days in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley and went to community college at night, Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa later graduated with honors from Harvard Medical School and become a leader in the field of neurosurgery, oncology and stem cell research.

Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa is the Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Neuroscience, Oncology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and the Director of the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory and the Neuro-Oncology Surgical Outcomes Laboratory at Johns Hopkins.

Top Master Chef Marcus Samuelsson also received an Honorary Degree and briefly addressed the class at the College’s 84th Commencement. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Samuelsson spoke of his Swedish grandmother’s influence and how he has learned, through food. “Food is such a simple thing to get a window into people’s lives,” Samuelsson said, urging the graduates to always keep asking questions.
Samuelsson is co-founder of the Marcus Samuelsson Group, co-owner/chef of Red Rooster in Harlem and has authored several award-winning cookbooks, including New American Table, his latest, which was presented to the graduates, signed by the author. For his degree, President Karen Gross cited Samuelsson’s work with UNICEF’s TAP program to help with water inequities around the globe.

Public Affairs news station, C-SPAN, was there to tape the event for a special broadcast over the Memorial Day weekend, which will feature commencements at 15 schools from around the United States.

Southern Vermont College conferred associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees to 112 students on Saturday afternoon, a class that has achieved “remarkable successes,” according to President Karen Gross. Prior to the keynote address, two SVC graduates, Emily Thatcher of Acton, Mass., and Brittany Stark of Lyndon Center, Vt., offered their classmates parting remarks.
Eight graduates earned valedictory and salutatory honors. The traditional baccalaureate degree Valedictorian was Melissa Millett of Lenox, Mass. The nontraditional baccalaureate degree Valedictorian was Jill Maynard of Wilmington, Vt. The traditional baccalaureate degree Salutatorian student was Adam Northup of West Kingston, R.I.;  nontraditional baccalaureate degree Salutatorian was Kristen DellaRocca of Albany, N.Y.
In the associate’s degree program, the traditional Valedictorian student was Victoria Barrett of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. The nontraditional Valedictorian associate’s degree program student was Stacy DeCesare of Manchester Center, Vt. The traditional Salutatorian was Marie Betit of West Rutland, Vt. The nontraditional associate’s degree Salutatorian was Daniel Tamea of Williamstown, Mass.
Three traditional awards were presented to graduating students. The William A. Glasser Award, honoring a student for achieving outstanding personal and academic growth while at the College, was given to Garang Ayang of Winooski, Vt. The Lynda Curry Memorial Award, honoring the graduate who best exemplifies the fulfillment of the College’s mission, was given to Kathleen Babcock of Vernon, Conn. The Edward H. Everett Award, acknowledging numerous contributions to the Southern Vermont College community, was presented to Cameron Maynard-Losh of Silver Spring, Md.