By Michelle Carpenter
Nov 14, 2016

Meet this Year’s Distinguished Eagle: Jesse Hunsaker

Treasured paintings of the Hunsaker children framed the walls. A piano sat in a place of honor, indicating musical talent in the household. Jesse and his wife ushered the film crew and BSA staff into their homes, happy to talk with everyone and help out.

All sights and words provided hints about why Jesse Hunsaker  deserves to receive this year’s Distinguished Eagle award at the Celebration of Eagles on November 19th at Utah Valley University.

He’s a family man with musically inclined children. He talks with people all the time through his work as a ophthalmologist. He started a clinic in American Fork, and he helped form Excel Eye Center (currently in five locations).  Also, he volunteers his time to serve people internationally.

The biography in the Celebration of Eagles Program explains the following about his international service:

He has completed over 40 vision projects—mostly in Central Africa but also including Jamaica and Romania. These projects primarily involve working with the local physicians by providing training, mentoring, and equipment which allows the local physicians to continue to provide ongoing care for the people of their countries. These projects included training in treating eye problems of premature infants, cataract surgery techniques, and laser treatments for diabetics and glaucoma.

Jesse’s wife Diane Hunsaker indicated that she is happy about his various achievements.

“I am very proud of my husband Jesse, and there are many many reasons,” said Diane Hunsaker. “He’s definitely a people person. He loves to be around people. He loves to develop relationships with people of all ages.”

Jesse Hunsaker attributes at least some of his success in life to becoming an Eagle Scout.

He said when he was trying to get into medical school he wanted to figure out a way to set himself apart from other candidates. On his application, he decided to include that he was an Eagle Scout. He said he was nervous going into his interview, and there was an awkward silence between him and the interviewer.

“He looked over my application and he said, ‘Give me the Scout Oath and Law,'” said Jesse, explaining that it’d been seven years since he’d been in Scouting. “I stood up, raised my right arm to the square and repeated perfectly the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. He got a big smile on his face and said ‘You really are an Eagle Scout.'”

After that, the interview went smoothly, according to Jesse. He often has thought that a significant part of his admission into medical school was due to being an Eagle Scout.

Now, Jesse Hunsaker and his wife are proud that he is receiving the Distinguished Eagle, an award given to rare individuals who have seen much success in the years following becoming an Eagle Scout. According to the National Eagle Scout Association, the Distinguished Eagle award is the highest honor.

“I consider this to be a great compliment and honor, and I’m very very pleased to receive it,” said Jesse Hunsaker.

In order to even be nominated for the award, past Eagle Scouts are required to meet very high standards, according to the National Eagle Scout Association. They received their Eagle at least 25 years prior. They “received extraordinary national-level recognition, fame, or eminence within the identified field.” They also have a strong record of volunteer service.

According to the website, here are some individuals who’ve received the award:

“Previous recipients include President Gerald R. Ford, several governors and senators, military flag officers, university presidents, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies, and nationally known lawyers, educators, and doctors.”

Honorees from Utah have included Dallin H. Oaks, Jeffery R. Holland, Larry M. Gibson, and Alan Ashton.

Join us at this year’s Celebration of Eagles to honor great Eagle Scouts.

Michelle Carpenter


Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Specialist, Utah National Parks Council.

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