Dr. David Dupree is man who did everything wrong, but eventually got where he wanted to go in life through hard work. Being “Ogdensburg tough” helped him get there.
Dr. Dupree, a 1991 graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy and surgeon at the Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, N.J., delivered that message to OFA high school students at their recent academic recognition ceremony.
Dr. Dupree, who lives in Fair Haven N.J. with his wife and two children, didn’t have a charmed road to success.
“I took the wrong road,” said Dr. Dupree, a former Belmont Courts resident who nearly failed out of SUNY Canton his freshman year.
After raising his grades to a 3.1 by graduation, Dr. Dupree was rejected by every medical school he applied to except one in the Netherlands Antilles, a small Caribbean nation.
For two years Dr. Dupree rode a donkey named Bruno to class, worked as a roofer to pay his bills and slept under mosquito nets to keep tarantulas off him.
Through all of that, Dr. Dupree said, he was just glad to be in medical school.
“It didn’t matter to me because I knew I was going to make it. I was Ogdensburg tough,” he said.
The next two years of Dr. Dupree’s life were spent in South Bronx at Lincoln Hospital, where his studies continued.
Unable to afford housing, Dr. Dupree spent 10 weeks living out of his parents’ Subaru in the hospital’s parking garage until a friendly janitor let him sleep in the boiler room. His boiler room lodging arrangement lasted 18 months.
“I didn’t care, because I was almost there,” Dr. Dupree said.
Having become well known surgeon who last year appeared on the television show The Doctors for removing a 51-pound tumor, Dr. Dupree said he was proud to be welcomed back to OFA to give the address at the Academic Banquet – an event he was barely able to attend when he was a senior.
“You don’t have to be given great to start; you have to start to be great,” he told the audience.
Dr. Dupree, the son of Lynn Fishel of Morristown and Timothy Dupree of Ogdensburg, is doing what he loves.
“It’s no longer a dream,” he said, “it’s called paradise.”
OFA Principal Cynthia L. Tuttle said Dr. Dupree’s address was well received.
“It was from the heart. You could tell that he meant everything he said,” she said.