Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, knows a few things about being good. Jensen is the first recipient of the William R. Jewell, M.D., Distinguished Kansas Masonic Professor in Cancer Research. He earned national attention for his cancer research at Vanderbilt and today he is leading the effort to gain National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center.
But in his remarks at PSU's Apple Day Convocation on March 3, Jensen, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology from PSU in 1980, talked about why it is sometimes "better to be lucky than to be good."
Jensen told the 500 students, faculty, staff and guests about his own good fortune and his path to Pittsburg State.
"Many times in my life I have been lucky and didn't realize it," Jensen said.
A Gardner, Kan., native, Jensen began his college career at Neosho County Community College where he played on the basketball team.
"I played basketball at Neosho County and mostly took science classes because that's what I was interested in with no grand plan whatsoever," Jensen said. "In fact, I had no idea what I was going to do in life, but I quickly figured out I was not going to be a lottery pick."
Jensen said one major piece of good fortune was to have Norman Steinman, a PSU product, as a science teacher at NCCC. He credited Steinman for giving him the "kick in the pants" he needed.
"When I was thinking about coming to a four-year school, the advice she gave to me was 'there's a whole lot more people like me at Pittsburg,' so I knew that was where I wanted to go," Jensen said.
At PSU, Jensen said, his good luck continued.
"I fell into an absolutely outstanding group of teachers," Jensen said.
He named people like Betty Duncan, Leland Keller, Alexander Bednekoff and Hugh Campbell.
"These were individuals whose career was dedicated to making me better and making every student who came in their class better," Jensen said.
Jensen asked the students in the audience to consider their own good fortune.
"While you're here at Apple Day today celebrating your accomplishments and your teachers' accomplishments, I want you to think about how lucky you are (to be at Pittsburg State University). I hope that you realize that," he said.