The Giving Tree
The month of May was a time of celebration and bittersweet transitions. The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion began Senior Week with our Senior Diversity Dinner, an annual dinner for underrepresented graduating seniors in the College of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies. Faculty, staff and alumni gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of these amazing MDs and PhDs and to wish them well on the next phase of their career.
This year, we added something new to the event: a "giving tree." Graduates were invited to share words of wisdom and advice for future students by writing their message on a card and placing it on the tree. Some bits of advice included: "You Got This…Be patient and kind to yourself!" "Never compare yourself to others… You are your own BOSS!" and "Don't forget to breathe!" The tree is now located in ODEI so students who visit can access the advice all year round.
The spirit of well-wishing and giving continued as we also celebrated the accomplishments of our Women's Health Education Program Scholars later that week. Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dr. Ana Núñez, opened her home as we cheered over sparkling cider and a delicious taco bar.
We wrapped up the week with Commencement at the Kimmel Center. The energy and excitement could be felt in the air as soon as you walked into the building. I had the privilege of staffing the student room where our soon-to-be-MDs lined up for their grand entry into the concert hall. I helped them properly fold their hoods over their arms so that their "hooding" went smoothly on stage. A seemingly simple task, yet one so meaningful because it allowed me to congratulate each and every student on an amazing journey!
However, just as there were many amazing celebrations, there were also some bittersweet moments for me. This May marked the first Mother's Day without my mom. It seems somewhat fitting to honor my mother around graduation season as she always emphasized the importance of learning and instilled a healthy respect for the pursuit of knowledge and education in all her children. My mom was the strongest, toughest, kindest, smartest and most considerate person I knew, and it is because of her that I am who I am today. She had her share of struggles and hardships, and she didn't win every challenge thrown at her, but she learned, adapted and kept moving forward. And in every case, she did it with class and grace.
So this is my advice for the giving tree. It is one trait my mother had and one that I choose to live by: No matter what happens, pick yourself up, wipe the dust off and keep on keeping on. In everything that we have felt, are feeling or will feel in life, we won't sulk and we won't take pity. We will persevere.
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
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