If you don’t already know, I really want to be a doctor. White coat, stethoscope, horrible writing, the works. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid, and at this point, I’m pretty well on my way to actually accomplishing that goal. As the summer draws to an end, my thoughts are turning back to where they were at the start of the program: to Duke, to medical school, to the unavoidable unknown after graduation. For the Moxie freshmen, this program sets the tone of their Duke activist experience. But as a rising senior, Moxie is a punctuation mark in the long and confusing run-on sentence that is my college experience. So for me, Moxie is something that I will soon incorporate into my post-undergrad life, and one thing I’ve already noticed is that my appreciation for people, thoughts, and experiences has well…appreciated.
As a typical pre-med kid, I devote most of my time to thinking about my life as a physician and interactions with other physicians. I therefore spend very little of my time thinking about future interactions with those healthcare workers who, in various capacities, make the doctor-patient interaction possible. During my time at Choices, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend several days shadowing and observing the physicians and staff as they check-in, register, direct, counsel, treat, and refer patients. As you can imagine, the physicians themselves play a relatively small role in the overall experience of a patient. And beneath that layer, there’s an entire administrative staff that designs, troubleshoots, and funds all the services offered. Physicians could never do their job without those other members of the team, nor would patients’ care be complete if they saw only the doctor. As a future physician, I’ve come to appreciate my future colleagues, no mater what letters follow their name.
Moxie is not like other DukeEngage programs. Moxie is like taking an academic class and then walking out the door and seeing everything you’ve learned acted out in front of you. It’s inescapable; terrible and wonderful. But like any class, you are bound to make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or do something you later regret. Whether I’ve realized my errors internally, or they’ve been pointed out to me by someone else, I’ve chosen to accept, learn from, and move past them. In social justice work, it can often feel like no matter what you say, you’ll offend someone. It can be a challenge to constantly monitor what comes out of your mouth, and even scares some people into saying nothing. But to me, that just means that I have plenty left to learn. As a student, I’ve come to appreciate the well-intended critique and corrections of my peers and superiors.
New York is incredibly diverse, everyone knows that. But even recognizing that coming in, it’s possible to experience culture shock when walking around the Big Apple for the first few days. Moxies have joked that this must be the place with the highest concentration of gay individuals anywhere. And they’re probably right! Every sexual identity and orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, language, really anything you can think of, is represented in this city. Learning to live in such a heterogeneous environment is liberating, but has a learning curve. Though we’re taught to avoid strangers to minimize risk, I’ve had some of the most interesting and refreshing conversations with people who walk up to me in the park or subway. While I’m not encouraging you to walk up and make friends with everyone you see in NYC, do let yourself be open with interactions that are going to happen anyway. When a young boy approaches you at the same subway stop for the fifth time asking for donations for his basketball team, don’t automatically dismiss him. You might just learn something new. As a human being, I’ve come to appreciate other humans.
So as I move on from Moxie, I will look for ways to appreciate everything around me, yes even the vast darkness that is post-graduation and medical school applications, because my appreciation means I’m growing and changing, appreciating as a person.