October 25, 2009

Morehead alumni forum

This is a blog for my fellow Morehead alumni that attended this weekend’s forum. All other readers enjoy, but there are references that you may not understand. I request your indulgence.

In my life there have been several extraordinary experiences that have led to the creation of the human being that I am. The man that I am. The person that I am. Take note that I have not said the ‘surgeon’ that I am. Because surgery is what I do, and I am a surgeon, and it is a huge part of my identity. But this weekend I was reminded that my life and sphere of influence and connectivity extend far beyond the operating room.

This weekend I joined the alumni of the Morehead foundation, now the Morehead-Cain foundation, in a tri annual alumni forum that featured entertainment, scholarly presentations, panel discussions of the issues of the day, networking with the movers and shakers of the world, and words of wisdom from alumni from the 1960’s to our newest millennium colleagues. To top off the day today, our alumnus PhD philosopher presented a wonderfully entertaining talk on “change.” At our dinners, my wife and I had the opportunity to interact with current scholars. Our seating strategy for Saturday night involved going to an open table and seeing who we would attract. To our delight, we attracted a whole gaggle of young scholars. We attributed that to our youthful appearance (despite being in our 50’s), and our even more our fresh outlooks of possibility and creation and innovation.

We loved it.

To say that we are totally juiced about attending the forum in 2012 is an understatement.

So what were the take away messages and what will I do differently in the future? It’s of worth to sit back and listen and enjoy the scholarly discourse, but how will I be different, what do I know differently about myself, what will I do differently? In no special order other than how they come from cortex to fingertips:

We said hello to each other, total strangers except for a common background, and found common ground and pleasure and delight outside of being Morehead scholars.

Everyone in the world is 6 steps or less from being connected to you. Countless examples of these relationships came up. But our actions and influences have significant affect on your friends, your friend’s friends, and your friend’s friend’s friends.

Vampires demonstrate to us that we live by our desires, we are what we want (you have to trust me on this one, ie, you had to be there). Anyone who was is smiling now.

Despite being smart as hell and very capable, we too experience set backs and disappointments, illness and injury. But we also have the resources and connections to recover, but not only to recover, but to experience the pain and disappointment and the abyss, and then take the steps to pick ourselves up and drag ourselves out of the mire, only to rise and achieve greater heights than ever before.

Twitter, facebook, and other social networks are our friends.

If you want to play basketball for UNC, be nice to your parents.

We were incredibly impressed with our current Morehead-Cain scholars (we have two college freshman of our own at App State, of whom were are also quite proud). One Saturday night scholar dinner ‘guest’ was a student from a Lebanese family. He is fluent in English, Arabic, and French, and plans to study international relations with a Middle Eastern emphasis. I feel better already about that part of the world. Sunday lunch we met scholars who had traveled and taught in Latin America and Africa, and who had challenged the wilds of the Yukon and Mt Kilamenjaro. OMG!! When I was a scholar I challenged the wilds of Interstate 85 and 95 and really out there I spent two months (on my own dollar) in Europe perfecting my German. Ya, sicher.

For your kids to be world citizens, they should be proficient in English and Spanish at least, and then add Arabic or Mandarin Chinese. I guess I missed the mark with my German (and I’m working on my Spanish).

A great job or great profession isn’t great if it is not personally rewarding and fulfilling, if it doesn’t leave time for personal and family growth, or it’s not your passion. Even if you’re the CEO. So if it doesn’t fit, change the paradigm (the questions). For example, should you strive to have profits top $1,000,000 or should the real goal be a profitable company that exudes proper values and respects the values of conservation and sustainability? etc, etc

Taking the individual responses of a difficult question from a crowd of people and combining their answers can lead to an accurate solution. (go figure, or go read the book, Wisdom of Crowds).

Apparently our middle school experiences had much more to do with our future outcomes than we know, or would like to admit.

So much for the small list of take aways.

Personally, I plan to read Don Quixote and to further study Spanish.

I’m also considering creating a DVD of the transition from middle school to college to med school to the OR. (see above)

And I’m planning to get together with my fellow Moreheads in the Raleigh area, hopefully on a regular basis.


The real value of this weekend was connection and friendship and respect and adulation that we all shared. And in the possibilities that these connections will create.

Already my wife and I are arranging a golf game with a fellow alumnus couple, and a dinner with a current scholar.

And if you’re reading this, we are connected so much more than the stated six degrees.

Come on 2012.

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