Dr. David Dupree '14
As the head of robotic surgery at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, N.J., Dr. David J. Dupree '14 is renowned for solving the most difficult, perplexing medical cases from around the country.
It has been a long road to success for the Ogdensburg native, but he readily admits he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for SUNY Canton.
Dupree began taking classes at SUNY Canton in 1991 with the intention of becoming a nurse. But he quickly realized that wasn’t the route he wanted to take.
“I vividly remember lying in my bed in Smith Hall, staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
Even though his grades weren’t stellar, he said his professors always encouraged him to keep going and pursue his dreams.
He recalled a time when he was working nights and taking classes during the day. He fell behind in calculus, and his professor, Stanley A. Fraser, found Dupree’s home number and called to check on him. “He cared enough to call and find out how I was doing,” he said. “Professor Fraser worked with me to make sure I completed the course.”
After leaving SUNY Canton to pursue a bachelor’s degree, he said he greatly missed the personal connection with his former instructors.
“The professors are what make SUNY Canton a top-notch school,” he said. “It was the best college that I attended.”
Dupree set his sights on medical school and quickly earned a reputation as an extremely talented surgeon with a big heart. He said about 30 percent of his surgeries are done on a pro bono basis for those who are uninsured, and another large portion of his patients have complex conditions that many of his colleagues refuse to treat.
That’s exactly what happened in 2012 when he received international attention after removing a 51-pound tumor from a woman who was near death. He recounted the harrowing five-hour surgery on the television show “The Doctors” and travels the country giving lectures on complicated abdominal surgeries.
Dupree said he takes pride in the fact that he is often a patient’s last hope and gets an enormous amount of job satisfaction from helping those in need.
“I bring a small-town surgical mentality to a big city,” he said.
In 2014 Dupree returned to SUNY Canton to deliver the commencement keynote address and was officially awarded an Associate of Applied Science degree that he began 23 years prior.
He spoke about the importance of discipline and determination in pursuing a dream and shared stories of his own struggles during his journey to become a surgeon, including sleeping in his car and a janitor’s closet while completing his residency in New York City.
“Success is achieved by closing the gap between who you are now and who you want to be in the future,” he said. “But you will have to navigate through that gap through many countless, but necessary, disappointments.”