The Value of Happiness: Lessons from Medical Reunion 2014

Samy Ramadan '17 talks with College of Medicine alums during Nostalgia Hour.
Samy Ramadan ’17 talks with College of Medicine alums during Nostalgia Hour at Medical Reunion 2014. Photo by Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography

Hello, Dr. Margaret Newton? Hi. My name is Samy. I’m a medical student at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and I’m calling to say thank you.”

I was working from a list of thirty names – all alumni who have contributed to the College of Medicine in one way or another. I wanted to individually thank them for their support. While the majority of my calls were swift, the conversation I had with Dr. Newton continued for well over thirty minutes. We instantly connected. Margaret, who graduated in 1954, was planning on coming to alumni weekend for her 60th reunion. After telling her that I would be leading tours of the simulation lab, we planned to meet in person.

Margaret was on my first tour, along with her classmate and best friend, Dr. Jacqueline Noonan. It was truly an honor to interact with the both of them. I also had the chance to speak with many more alumni that weekend, some from being on my tours, like Margaret and Jacqueline, and others from spontaneous introductions. During the welcoming reception, with a plate of hors d’oeuvres in one hand and a stack of cookies in the other, I floated from table to table sparking conversations with incredible people.

Medical school was very different five decades ago, and that became increasingly clear during Nostalgia Hour. This event, hosted by John Tampas, M.D. ’54 and James C. Hebert, M.D. ’77, gave alumni a chance to recount brief and lighthearted stories about their medical school days. Listening to their accounts was definitely my favorite part of alumni weekend and I felt honored to be the newest addition to the College of Medicine family.

We recently completed our last Neural Science exam, which marks the end of our first year of medical school. This brings us one step closer to graduation and to joining the wonderful group of alumni that I had the pleasure of meeting. Let’s be honest, I probably won’t retain everything I’ve learned over this past year. I will, however, remember every single interaction that I had during alumni weekend.

At the alumni picnic, someone told me that the love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege. I spent a long time thinking about that statement.It makes perfect sense – everyone around me was so happy. They were there with their spouses, their kids, and some even their grandkids. Classmates were reconnecting and catching up with each other and laughter was not a rare commodity. People were happy – that made me happy. So what did they all have in common? Why was everyone so happy, kind, warm and welcoming? I believe it’s because they all studied here. If they are all happy, then there’s a really good chance that I will be too.

What are your thoughts about this topic?