Remembering how I got here, with gratitude

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you encounter a lot of wealthy people. The zip code 10065, just blocks south of where Weill Cornell Medical College is located, made number 15 on Forbes’ “America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes 2015” with a median sale price of $4.4 million. As a broke medical student though, this is not a life that I’m directly exposed to. Not usually. But recently, I was invited to dinner at a private social club. I was to meet the person who funded my summer research, including my trip to Uganda.

Having grown up writing thank you notes for even the smallest of gifts, I was excited to say “thank you” in person for making this life changing experience possible. But when I found out where we were meeting, I was also nervous. Former club members apparently included people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl Buck, and Margaret Mead. What in the world did I have to wear to a place like that? Of course my fretting was for naught; everyone’s attire there was classy but not fancy, just like mine. Phew.

The food at the club was excellent, but much more meaningful was the company. At the dinner I was reminded of two things. First, how important it is to support and mentor a younger generation. That support might be financial, emotional, or otherwise. And second, how significant the experience is for  both parties.

The person who provided my scholarship was thrilled to hear about my trip and my experience. And I was thrilled to share it. The money provided was a drop in the bucket to her, but meant all the world to me. I couldn’t have gone without it. I hope my gratitude came across during that short time.

I’ve had so much help to get here, and it continues to pour in. I’m grateful for all those gifts, great and small. And I fully intend to pay them back someday by paying them forward.