Homecoming: Alumni Revere Impact of U of M

September 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Mary Ann Levy [MD/64] shares what propelled her to pursue a career in medicine.

We welcomed back 200 Medicine alumni last weekend during the University of Manitoba Homecoming to reconnect with one another and their alma mater.

Alumni from the past six decades celebrated class reunions at Homecoming. Members of the classes of 1959, 1964, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1999, 2004 descended early Saturday morning on Bannatyne Campus for the annual Dean’s Homecoming Breakfast and tours of the campus. Alumni attended from across North America as well as Bermuda and Trinidad & Tobago.

A moving speech from alumna Mary Ann Levy [MD/64] was one of the highlights. She had previously written a letter to her classmates about the importance of giving back to the U of M in honour of their wonderful years of training and education and their special teachers who taught them “courage, compassion and camaraderie.”

She added that she hoped each classmate would make a gift on the occasion of their 50th reunion that “feels meaningful and right for you to celebrate our very essence as physicians and healers and the school that made it possible for us to go into the world and be compassionate and skillful doctors.”

Mary Ann spoke of witnessing the worst of health practices as a young child when her father was sick with pneumonia and denied antibiotics in the early 1940s, and how that propelled her to pursue a career in medicine.

At the University of Manitoba, she said, “We learned to practice medicine in caring and humane ways. The lessons I learned from my teachers also helped me establish my moral compass.”

Mary Ann’s reaction to what could have been a terrible tragedy speaks volumes about her empathy as a physician. During her residency training in psychiatry in Cincinnati, one day she came upon a young boy who had just been struck by a car, had a head injury and lay lifeless on the side of the road. She quickly moved into action and performed a tracheotomoy using what was available: a ball point pen barrel and a pen knife that saved the seven-year-old’s life.

“The shocking reaction of my colleagues was ‘weren’t you afraid of being sued?’ I can thank my medical school experiences for the fact that this thought never crossed my mind. What did a lawsuit have to do with responding to a human tragedy? And I realized how lucky I was not to have to screen my human responses in such a wasteful way,” she recounted.

It is always inspiring to hear our alumni’s stories about how their years in med school at the University of Manitoba defined them as physicians and, like Mary Ann put it, as human beings.

How did your University of Manitoba education help shape who you are today?

Click to view the event photo gallery.