A couple of weeks ago, I had one of the most moving experiences of my life.
My family came in from all over the country to celebrate my older daughter’s Match Day. It’s the day when graduating medical students from all over the country find out where they’ll spend their residency.
Before the ceremony, each student receives an envelope with their match inside. They can open it beforehand or on stage in front of everyone.
The residency is their first paying job. They’ll spend 3 to 5 years there, so the spot they get really matters.
I don’t know how other schools do it, but at Morehouse School of Medicine, each student brings her or his village on stage and has 90 seconds to say thank you to everyone who helped make that moment possible.
The stories the students told were amazing. One young woman was born and raised in one of Atlanta’s worst neighborhoods, The Bluff, and she spent all her life listening to people tell her she would never become a doctor. But she made it.
One young man spent months in the ICU after a tragic car accident, two years after his brother had been killed and a few years after his family, headed by his single mother, relocated to Atlanta from Puerto Rico. He had to learn to breathe and walk and talk on his own again. But he made it.
Some students had more than ten people by their side onstage. Some had children, husbands or wives, parents, grandparents, and neighbors. One student even had his fourth-grade teacher in his village. Others only had a single individual. But they all had classmates, professors, and administrators to thank. And they all made it.
This year, Morehouse School of Medicine had a 100% match rate—a really big deal.
Standing next to my daughter, Melina, I felt her shaking as she opened with the words “First giving honor to God, from whom all blessings flow.” She thanked me first (yes!) and her father and stepfathers, and her sister, and her friends, and so many people.
And then she announced that she had been accepted in her first choice program, a dual residency in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry at Tulane University. These last few years haven’t been easy. There have been lots of tears, lots of prayers, and lots of times when she needed to be reminded that she has everything she needs to become a doctor. But my baby made it. One month from now she will be Dr. Melina Zúniga.
And I am so proud.