Ordinary and Special Days
A message from outgoing Alumni Relations Director Theresa Bryant

Greetings Alumni Friends,

Twice a year now, to draft my “Director’s Message” for our alumni newsletter, I usually take my cue from an experience from the past few months. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide upon a single focus, but I always enjoy the challenge. Composing this one will be the hardest ever: it will be my last. My cue this time came from two prompts.

In mid-February three alumni spoke to an audience of 45 hungry student listeners. The evening called “The Practice” focused not just on what specialty they chose but how they decided upon the setting, the atmosphere in which to “practice.” My very adept moderator and friend, Dr. Jos Chertoff, TDI ’05, TDC’13, posed to the audience a very useful exercise: “Choose an ordinary day.” Ask yourself: could you happily read chest films all day? Would you enjoy travelling to meetings with prospective drug investors two weeks a month? Why would you be excited by staring at the microbes of a new infectious disease? That self-examination is a crucial measure of one’s future satisfaction, joy, and happiness.

In a favorite play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, Emily Webb, a principal character who has recently died, looks back at her life on the day of her funeral and asks the stage manager if she could choose a special moment to remember forever. The stage manager advises her to choose an ordinary day.  

As I look back at 12 years with you, what days would I choose to remember? 

Class Day ceremonies in June—as I stood along the gauntlet of well-wishers watching our newly hooded grads, now alumni, processing out of the tent? I loved being one of the first to say “Congratulations, Doctor!” Or each fall as an unnoticed voyeur reveling again as Dr. Sy’s former students, his “boys,” shared their stories (some apocryphal) about their beloved mentor with the newest Syvertsen Scholars? One will always be the denouement of reunion—those Sunday mornings, standing on sore feet, watching the last groups of friends hugging their final good byes, exchanging emails again, and promising to see each other sooner than five years hence.   

My ordinary days were to call attention to your days at DMS and to help you appreciate what made them so special. Continue to come back to enjoy and support your days here. And thank you for letting be your stage manager, your director, for a short time. I hope you’ll remember me.

April 2015