Growing up in Newton County, Dr. Justin Kennon watched as his father battled cancer. He saw the positive ways that physicians can impact the lives of their patients. Those observations have continued to shape his life and career in the years since he left. And now, they’re taking him to Rochester Minn.
Dr. Kennon, a 2001 graduate of Newton High School, recently matched in the Orthopaedic Surgery sub-specialty Fellowship program in Shoulder/Upper Extremity at Mayo Clinic. In July of 2018, he, his wife Amanda and sons Will and Thomas will pack up and head north for a year. The enormity of the opportunity to train at Mayo is not lost on him.
“The surgeons at Mayo I will be working with are thought-leaders and worldwide experts in their specialties,” he said, “I will be operating alongside the best in the world and will be bringing this level of excellence back to the southeast.”
Long before he attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Kennon was a student at Ficquett Elementary School. After Ficquett, it was on to Cousins Middle before graduating from Newton High School as salutatorian. His Newton County roots run deep.
“I grew up in Oxford. Some of my fondest memories were growing up like many local kids, playing baseball at City Pond Park or pick-up basketball games in the driveways of Oxford and Covington,” he said.
At Newton High, Dr. Kennon was president of the student body his senior year. His Ram spirit was easily seen as he and friends painted their chests for football and basketball games.
He was also a co-editor of the student newspaper, the RamPage. His early foray into journalism would continue to impact his life in the years after he left NHS. While working on the paper, Dr. Kennon said that he had the opportunity to visit New York City along with other journalism students.
“The trip was one of the first stints I spent interacting with my now wife, Amanda,” he said, “The trip was educational, but it was also the beginning of a relationship that would continue for close to 18 years now.”
After high school, Dr. Kennon attended Georgia Tech as a Presidential Scholar. After graduating with honors, he began a career in medical device sales. It was then that he decided to go to medical school, something he always thought he would do.
“I felt compelled to go back to medical school to pursue a career where I could positively impact more lives. I have been passionate about helping others from an early age and always felt that my path would lead me to medicine,” he said.
He chose orthopaedics, specifically shoulder/upper arm because of the potential to do sports medicine. Orthopedic surgery also offers a chance to treat people in a wide range of ages with a wide breadth of problems.
“In the same day,” he said, “I have the opportunity to take care of a boy or girl who broke their arm on the monkey bars, a high school or college athlete who needs a shoulder or knee surgery to get back on the field or an older person with advanced arthritis of the shoulder, knee or hip.
“It’s a great group of patients who I have the opportunity to help get back to the activities of life they enjoy.”
US News and World report ranked Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. as the best hospital in the nation in its 2016-2017 rankings. Once his fellowship is complete, though, Dr. Kennon and Amanda, who graduated from Newton High in 2002 and is now a successful pharmaceutical representative, would like to bring Thomas and Will back home to Georgia.
“Ideally,” Dr. Kennon said, “we’ll find a practice where I could continue to take care of the orthopaedic problems of the people of metro Atlanta and Rockdale, Morgan and Newton Counties.”