Dr. Arbaje Success Not A Surprise

Kevin Gray

Little did I once realize or suspect what a mark Dr. Alicia Arbaje would make in the field of medicine someday. But, then, that was about 20 years ago, and I was focused on the present time and a new student I was told had been jumped a grade or two.

When Alicia arrived in my sophomore English class, I already knew she was a bit young compared to the other kids, kind of like the television show “Doogie Howser, M.D,” which, in fact, ran, when I was first getting to know Alicia. The television character, Doogie, was already a doctor at 16, whereas Alicia graduated from high school at 16.

Some of the other students expected a “brainy” type, but this wasn’t how Alicia came across. Friendly, open, sincere, but certainly not “know it all.” Not even close. Caring for sure! Oh, she was intelligent, but she wasn’t out to show up other students, never any competition involved, and she just seemed to fit in naturally. What was evident was how much she enjoyed learning and appeared to really enjoy every single lesson. Never did she attempt to answer every question in classroom discussions (when I knew she knew the answers).

With sophomore year behind us, I recruited her for yearbook, because it would be a different kind of experience and not so much book-generated learning. She also welcomed a “hands-on” type of class, where she could easily interact with other students.

My fondest memory, other than the day-to-day, was when she was slated to attend a Kansas Scholars luncheon at the governor’s mansion in Topeka towards the end of her senior year. She asked Paul Brack, math teacher, and me to go with her. Needless to say, the day was wonderful and the chance to spend it with Alicia, her mom, Maria Draiby of Osawatomie, and Paul made it extra special.

And, then, Alicia was gone. I heard from her on occasion, when she attended the University of Kansas. She went on to medical school at Yale, and my efforts to keep up became confused. This young woman was busy. I thought she was in one place, only to find she was now in another medical learning environment. We managed to stay in touch, anyway.

On her trips back to Kansas, she usually tried to track me down. Her warm smile, and the “Hi, Mr. Gray,” has never changed, even though through Facebook, I have tried to get her to move towards dropping the Mr. Gray and go with Kevin. She hasn’t, yet.

Last Christmas, my son was home from Santa Fe, N.M., and we were able to connect with Alicia, when she ran her mom to Walmart in Paola. When Kyle was in elementary school and would hang out in my classroom, he and Alicia became fast friends. She was good for piggy back rides and games. I appreciated Alicia’s efforts to keep my son occupied, while I attempted to finish the odds and ends of my day. And, so, it was fun to see Alicia and Kyle visiting as adults.

Dr. Arbaje may be far removed from Miami County but with her endeavors at taking elder care to a larger audience, anyone from anywhere with computer access can tune in to her monthly television spots. Dr. Arbaje’s programs can be found via YouTube or simply by typing her name in a search engine. Or have a friend do it for you.

Her spots on Baltimore’s Channel 2 have already reminded me about some of the same issues I faced when my parents hit their senior years and had to learn on my own. Thankfully, we have someone like the enthusiastic Dr. Arbaje to treat and work with older patients.

I know there was a time, when my student, Alicia, listened to my every word; now, the tables have turned, and I – the graying K. Gray – am paying attention to what Dr. Arbaje has to say, even if it is from a distance.

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Posted by admin on Dec 15 2010. Filed under Kevin Gray, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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