The Austin College Posey Leadership Award will be presented on campus at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, in Clifford J. Grum Sanctuary of Wynne Chapel. This year’s honoree: Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, a renowned neurological surgeon at Mayo Clinic Florida, will present “Under the Stars: Balancing Success and Failure.”
There is no cost to attend; those interested in attending the in-person or livestream presentation must register online.
To access the livestream event at 11 a.m. Thursday: https://youtu.be/nF_ULHLinOk
Dr. Q, as he likes to be called, is the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor, as well as the Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, professor, and physician-scientist in the Department of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville. He also is the co-founder and president of the nonprofit foundation Mission:BRAIN (Bridging Resources and Advancing International Neurosurgery), a nonprofit consortium of U.S. medical professionals, suppliers, and volunteers that conduct neurosurgical missions in countries where health care is lacking.
At the close of the 11 a.m. presentation, Austin College President Steven P. O’Day, J.D., L.H.D., and the College’s Board of Trustees chair David Corrigan, a 1981 graduate of the College, will present the award that recognizes Dr. Q’s work to improve the quality of health for others, to advance humanitarian health care, and to spread health around the world.
Other participants in the Leadership Convocation are Dr. Martinella Dryburgh, director of the College’s Posey Leadership Institute and holder of the Leslie B. Crane Chair of Leadership Studies, and senior Jacob Moreno, who will introduce Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa.
Dr. Q is able to help many people in his roles at the Mayo Clinic and through his nonprofit organization, but his story was much less successful in his younger days. He was a poor teenager in rural Mexico when he made his way into California and worked as an undocumented migrant worker in the tomato fields and rail yards of Central California. On his days off, he attended biology classes at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, later transferring to the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with highest honors. From there, he traveled across the country to complete a medical degree at Harvard Medical School and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, all before the age of 30.
He later joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In less than six years, he became a professor of neurosurgery and oncology, neuroscience, and cellular and molecular medicine—an amazingly quick rise in academia. Dr. Q is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest surgeons and scientists, operating on some 250 brain tumors every year and leading cutting-edge, federally funded research to cure brain cancer. At Johns Hopkins, and now at Mayo Clinic Florida, Dr. Q leads the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory, focusing on the surgical treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumors.
He has conducted numerous research projects on brain cancer and the role stem cells can play in fighting illness, with funding from the National Institute of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Foundation, among others.
Dr. Q enthusiastically recounts stories from his life as a top brain surgeon and neuroscientist—and how he gained his sense of precision in the operating room from his work picking tomatoes in the San Joaquin Valley. He is a mentor to young people and an ardent champion of STEM education, encouraging students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Education, and Math.
This year, Austin College organizers have taken advantage of familiarity with virtual communications to create a Leader-in-Residence arrangement with the leadership award recipient. In November, students met with Dr. Q to discuss “From Migrant Farm Worker to Medical School,” hosted by Austin College health sciences advisors Dr. Kelly Reed and Dr. Chris Goldsmith. In February, he spoke about “The Universality of Immigration: Lands of Opportunity and Cruelty,” hosted by Dr. Julie Hempel, director of the College’s Center for Southwestern & Mexican Studies; and in March, Dr. Martinella Dryburgh of the Posey Leadership Institute hosted Dr. Q and students in a discussion of “Leadership is Not Perfection.” Finally, in late March, Dr. Renee Countryman, director of the College’s Neuroscience Program, hosted a conversation on “Medically Informed Research: Migration in the Brain,” for which students in her neuroscience courses read Dr. Q’s papers and were prepared to discuss specific points with him.
The Austin College Leadership Award was created in March 2006 through the generosity of Sally and Lee Posey, founder of Palm Harbor Homes. The Posey name was added to the award upon Lee Posey’s death in 2008. The award was designed to bring leaders in contact with Austin College students who could benefit from their experiences in values-based leadership, integrity, courage, and vision.
The award honors outstanding individuals who, through their work, demonstrate principles of servant leadership, specifically by taking a courageous stand on a public policy issue that advances a humanitarian or educational purpose; or serving the youth of a state, nation, or international community to improve the quality of health, educational, or community services; or creating opportunities for young people that help them enhance their educational experience and move to a new level of service to society.
The inaugural award went to Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, in 2007. Since then, the award has been given each year to servant leaders who have sought to better the world through numerous avenues. Winners have included Salman Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy in 2013; Barbara Pierce Bush, co-founder of Global Health Corps in 2018; Nathan Wolfe, epidemiologist and co-author of The Viral Storm in 2016, and many others through 2019. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the award was on hiatus during 2020 and 2021.