Nelson, the 17th president of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was one of three people to receive an honorary degree during the virtual commencement ceremony, along with C. Hope Eccles, an education advocate, and William J. Rutter, known as the “father of biotechnology.”
In a video prepared for the virtual commencement ceremony, the university honored Nelson’s past as a U of U student, research professor, and director.
“No matter what your field of endeavor, it’s well to excel,” President Nelson said in the video.
Nelson was born on September 9, 1924, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 1945 and his doctor of medicine degree two years later.
After graduating from the U of U, President Nelson went on to serve as a medical resident at the University of Minnesota, where he helped developed the “heart-lung machine.” He would go on to perform the first open-heart surgery using the heart-lung machine in the state of Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a news release.
“I’ve had the great sorrow of burying my wife and two of my precious daughters. Those have been challenges that have tested my ability to deal with hard things. You learn to deal with your challenges, make quick decisions, make good decisions, hopefully. I chose just to be in charge and try to do what’s right, ” Nelson said.