38• south mississippi scene
personalities: dr. kiper nelson
STORY BY ANGEL MISENHELTERPHOTOS COURTESY SOUTHERN EYE CENTER AND NELSON FAMILY PHOTOS
Growing up in Yazoo City, on the edge of the Delta farmlands, Kiper Nelson dreamed early on of becoming a world class surgeon.
This motivated him to workhard, even in elementaryschool. By the time he finishedhigh school, as Valedictorian,he knew that his ideal surgicalcareer would enable him tohave an immediate impact onthe lives of others, so heplanned to attend medicalschool. Eschewing the usualdegree in pre-med, he followedin his father’s footsteps and gota Bachelors of Science degree inEngineering from theUniversity of Mississippi.While completing his engineer-ing degree Dr. Nelson earnedmembership in Tau Beta Pi, anexclusive engineering honorsociety.He was accepted to theUniversity of MississippiSchool of Medicine in Jacksonwhere he continued to studyhard, learning as much as hecould and deciding what surgi-cal specialty interested him themost. He also settled downdomestically, marrying hislong-time sweetheart, LauraLee Peaster.During the third and fourthyears of medical school, stu-dents “rotate” through the vari-ous medical specialties.LauraLee remembers that by the endof the first day of his ophthal-mology rotation, “Kiper knewhe had found his specialty; hewas really excited about eyesurgery.” She laughs, “It mayhave been because the instru-ment controls reminded him of his favorite arcade games from junior high! Seriously, though,Kiper had worn glasses or con-tacts for most of his life, so heknew first-hand that the abilityto help others to see well couldgreatly improve the quality of their lives.” He also realizedthat ophthalmology would givehim the opportunity to createmeaningful patient relation-