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May 11, 2009 - Image 3

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-05-11

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Monday, May 11, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

13

Gupta's words of wisdom

'U' alum and CNN
reporter talks life
lessons, role models
By LARA ZADE
Managing News Editor
Editor's. Note: In a sit-down
interview with The Michigan Daily,
CNN personality Sanjay Gupta
discusses his life as a Michigan
student and his decision to turn
down the surgeon general posi-
tion. Gupta was the speaker at the
Medical School's commencement
ceremony.
Zade: What is your fondest
memory from your time at the
University as a student?
Gupta: There (are) so many
memories here. I was here for
such a long time. It's probably a
good thing that it's hard to distill
it down to just one. But I think
being at the football games was
probably the thing that I remem-
ber the most because you look
around and you're immersed
with all of these people who are
just like you. They're students
- they're curious, they want to
be part of the larger world and
there's a very festive atmosphere,
usually, if it was a good season.
I think that, and all of the sur-
rounding parties around those
games and the spirit of this place
is something that I found is hard
to find once you leave here.
Z: What skills did you acquire
at the University that helped you
be successful in life?
G: I think I really started to
develop my writing skills here at
Michigan, in part -because people
let me write. There wasn't a con-
formist attitude or an idea that
you had to walk in with a certain
skill set to be able to really con-
tribute in some way.
I think when I started writing
I wasn't particularly good at it but
that didn't seem to be a problem.
I think people really helped me
with that. And I think that writ-
ing, for me, has probably driven
every other part of my life, includ-
ing medicine. A lot of what we do
in medicine is contributing to the
larger knowledge of our field, so I
began to write scientific papers, I
worked at the White House. I went
there and was writing speeches for
the.President and the First Lady -
again, a lot of those skills having
first started to germinate here at
Michigan.

And now I'm a journalist, a
reporter, in addition to being a
doctor, and I take great pride
in the fact that I write my own
pieces and a lot of copy for all of
our various mediums. So, I think
the writing in some ways was the
most surprising.
I got a world class education
here, and I became a fully trained
neurosurgeon here, but it was the
writing that I think propelled me
in directions that I would have
never imagined.
Z: Did you have any role models
as a student at the University?
G: (...) The person who I think
had the most overall profound
impact on my life here at Michi-
gan was Dr. Julian Hoff, who was
a chairman of neurosurgery at
that point. He was one of those
guys who I think in many ways
emulated the Michigan tradi-
tion of "we're going to teach you
everything you need, you're going
to walk out of here as educated
and trained as anywhere else in
the world, we're also going to
open your mind in ways that you
can't even imagine."
I think you come to college
with some preconceived notions
of what you want to do and who
you want to be when you grow up,
but when you just sort of let your
mind be open to various things
and ideas it's really an awesome
thing and I think people are bet-
ter because of it.
Z: Can you discuss the process
of how the position of the Surgeon
General was offered to you, and
what factors made you decide not
to take it?
G: The way that was offered to
me was I got a call from the Presi-
dent and he says, "Let's talk about
you being Surgeon General." That
was back in November, he had
just been elected and he was in
Chicago, so I flew to Chicago and
we sat down and talked about
everything related to health and
health care in this country, and it
was a great conversation to have.
It was a real interesting insight
into what the man who is going to
be in charge of not only that but
of the whole free world, (what) his
focus was when it came to health
care specifically.
I was extremely flattered by
it and it was a really tough deci-
sion not to do it, but in the end for
me it really came down to some-
thing personal. I didn't want to
be a commuting dad. My wife was
pregnant at the time, that child is

finds blueberries are
a true health food
Wednesday, May 13
Opinion
Brittany Smith writes
about Obama and
pragmatism'
Friday, May75
Sports
Ryan Kartje discusses
the current state of
Michigan baseball
Friday, May 15
Arts
Eric Chiu talks
"Scrubs" as its first
season on ABC ends
Wednesday, May 13
...and much more.
Check in daily for updates.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks to the 2009 graduates at the University Medical School
commencement ceremony on Friday.

now six weeks old. I wanted (to)
be around for those things and I
didn't want to only see my kids for
a day or day and a half a week for
several years. That was probably
the biggest thing.
I also found out, which I didn't
know, because you learn things as
you go through the process, that
I wouldn't be able to continue to
practice surgery. And I'm still a
relatively young surgeon, not as
young as a lot, but you know I still
have many years of surgery that

I'd like to be able to practice, and
I think when you walk away from
a field like neurosurgery, for four
years or eight years, depending
on how long he's president, you're
essentially saying bye to it, I don't
think I would have been able to go
back to it.
Most of the people who have
been Surgeon General in the past
have taken the job closer to retire-
ment, at a different phase in their
life, and I think that those were
really my primary reasons.

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