Dr. Steven James grew up in Clay County, graduating from Brazil High School in 1977.
James transferred to Brazil Jr. High School from Staunton Elementary in order to play football and be in a chemistry class.
"I knew from junior high on that I wanted to be doctor," James, Greenwood, Ind., said.
James received a Bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology from Indiana University in 1981. He attended medical school in Indianapolis, graduating in 1985.
In 1991, James went back to Indianapolis after finishing an internship and his neurosurgical residency at Ohio State University. He joined what was then known as Indianapolis Neurosurgical Group.
Now, James is a neurosurgeon, working on the south side of Indianapolis.
For the past 21 years, James has practiced on trauma injuries dealing with the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. He deals with brain tumors or spinal problems such as herniated disks.
"I see probably more than 100 patients each week," James said. "Over the years, I've conducted thousands of surgeries and have seen thousands of patients."
James said he is often recognized in Indianapolis when going places.
"You're not just dealing with a patient, you also come in contact with their family and friends," James said. "Sometimes you come out of the operating room and 20 people will be in the waiting room for your patient."
Connecting with people is James' favorite part of his job.
"I enjoy the conversations I have with my patients," he said. "What I will miss most when I retire is seeing patients in my office and talking to them about health or what they like to do."
Starting out as a small town boy, James has worked hard to become one very successful man.
"I've accomplished my goals in life," James said. "I wanted to be a successful neurosurgeon, and I've accomplished that. I wanted to raise a family, and I've done that. I'm happily married and have been for the last 25 years. I've had the opportunity to play and do things outside of medicine. So I'd say I've accomplished my goals and more."
James said growing up in a small town affected him in both negative and positive ways.
"It's a hindrance coming from a small town because you're not quite as prepared as students coming from larger high schools," he told The Brazil Times. "But it also kept me conservative, frugal and respectful, not only of people but also of monetary gains."
James believes someone's background doesn't have to affect his or her future.
"If you have a goal in life, it doesn't matter if you come from a small town or a large town, if you have those goals you can achieve them no matter what obstacles stand in your way," he said. "It doesn't matter where you come from -- small town, large city or overseas -- if you want to accomplish something, you can."