Saturday, October 20, 2012

Age 21: Christmas Carols

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by Dr. Margaret Aranda

So I decided to go Pre-Med.  In 1980, my son was 9 months old when I started College in earnest.  I entered as a Business Administration major, with the intention of getting my real estate broker's license. Changing gears, I was now a Biology Major, Cellular and Molecular Biology, to be exact.

I had graduated High School at 16, so I had to start with Pre-College Algebra math classes.  I took summer school while my son played at the park with his Dad, and my Father helped me with my math homework in the evenings.  Three generations, me sandwiched in between.

At California State University, Northridge (CSUN), I signed up for a Tay-Sachs Trait Testing Program, and I Directed my own Sickle Cell Trait Testing Program in conjunction with King-Drew Medical Center.

I attended the Pre-Med Club at the Sepulveda Veteran's Administration Medical Center.  On my second meeting, only three of us arrived.  The room was otherwise empty.  Barbara Green, the President of the Pre-Med Club, decided to go Pre-Dent.  She stood with her white teeth and smiled and Janet and I, the only two members, first looked at one another.  Then we looked at her teeth.  We shrugged.  "Well, that's what you should do," we said.

She asked, "Who wants to be President?"

Janet immediately said she did not want to do it.  I encouraged her, as she had been a member for a year already, and I was just new.  She refused.  "Well", I said, "If no one else wants to do it, I'll be President.  But you have to be Vice President".  She agreed.  And that's how I got to be President of the Pre-Med Club.

I volunteered to do EKGs, vital signs, phlebotomy, and then CPR.  I arranged for every subsequent Pre-Med Club member to do the same.  Then I volunteered in the ER.  I gathered other students from CSUN, and had them invite their friends from Pierce Junior College, UCLA, USC, Valley College, and Moorepark College.  I wrote a Manual for the Pre-Med Club, and the VA Photographer came in for a Photo Shoot of the Club in the Conference Room at one of our Pre-Med Club Meetings.  We toured the UCLA Dome Room OR, viewing a pediatric open-heart surgery from above.  We had an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor come come to our Conference Room to give a talk to the group.  His slide show contained lots of images of progressively awful cancers of the face.  One of the Pre-Med students promptly fainted on the carpet.

Faith Rothburn was the Director of Voluntary Services.  She had beautiful red hair, wore glasses, and told tall tales of wartime, capturing my curiosity.  When I grew up, I wanted to be like her.  She was stately, understated and classy.  Did not speak too much, and when she spoke, people listened.  I loved her like a Mother.  She gave me tickets for a free lunch at the cafeteria on my volunteer days, and signed me up to help with the Red Cross Blood Drive every year.  We had 20 members.

At Christmas, the Pre-Med Club went bed to bed and sang Christmas Carols.  It was a dark and rainy Saturday, so dark that it seemed like it was nighttime.  We all wondered if it would be worth it, traveling in bad weather to go sing to the Veterans.  No one had done it before.  There were six of us.  One member played an accordian, and the rest of us sang. We never practiced; we just got a hold of some music, passed it around, and walked down the hallways.  We went from room to room, with each room having four beds.  We would sing while we walked down the hallways, so they could hear us coming.  Then we went in the room, sang a song or two, then left singing.  Over and over again, we did this.

The Veterans cried.

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Dr. Margaret Aranda's Books:

No More Tears en Espanol
Face Book Page: Stepping from the Edge
Little Missy Two-Shoes Likes to go to School
From Menarche to Menopause: A Journey through Time

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Age 31: The Color Blue

Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda

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  1. What an action-packed year for a President with no experience! Lovely bit with the Christmas Carols and the veterans.

    1. Trial by fire, indeed! I like your feedback on the Veterans. It was simply grand.

  2. Wow, that sounds like it was an awesome year for you.

  3. Many thanks, Joy. It really was action-packed!

  4. Yes, Jessica. It was a lot of fun and I met so many wonderful people.

  5. Talk about an over-achiever! When did you find time to study? The story about singing for the veterans is very touching.

    1. Yes, Jane, hahaha...I studied a lot. I don't know where I found the time, but alas, such things come with youth! I'm glad you could feel the sentiment with the was very touching to be there. I'd like to do it again.


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