Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For Inspiration, Try a Graduation

Yesterday we attended our niece's graduation from medical school. There can't be a better, more effective lesson in the power of determination mixed with commitment to a particular future.

The commencement speaker was a graduate of Pitt Med herself, and she had a great story to tell. A first-generation American, Nadine Gracia was brought up by well-educated parents who could only get relatively menial jobs once they came to the U.S. But as Dr. Gracia made clear, they did those jobs in an exemplary fashion because they believed in doing things right -- and setting an example. Gracia graduated with honors from Stanford, went to Pitt for medical training, did pediatrics research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and then was named one of 14 White House Fellows in 2008-2009 during which she served as a policy advisor to First Lady Michelle Obama. Today she is chief medical officer for the Office of Public Health and Science.

Gracia related how she still had doubts -- was she doing the right thing, did she pick the right specialty and was it worthwhile working for the government? Then came the earthquake in Haiti -- and she was able to use her medical skills, French and clout of the U.S. government to make a difference in the lives of many Haitians in those early days after the quake.

Gracia's life story is astounding -- and she isn't even 40 yet. Our teen listened raptly.

I'm thinking that attending college-and-above graduations just might be an important element of the teen years. It's a reminder of what's beyond the headaches and hassles, fears and tears, of the college admissions process.

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