Marli von Heideken

My Grandpa would always tell me stories about his days volunteering at the hospital and the patients he would meet. He would say “I always try to make jokes when I can, some don’t like it, but for others it seems to brighten their day, even if only a little.”

Once I noticed my interest in medicine, I took to the hospital to gain more insight. I started in the Emergency Department where I assisted nurses with check-in and triage processing; however, my interactions with patients were minimal. After several months, I was moved to General Service at the front desk where I delivered flowers and presents, and wheeled around discharge or transfer patients. I took my Grandpa’s advice and put on the biggest smile I could to try and ease the worry I saw in many eyes, and for the 3 minute wheelchair ride, I would happily engage the patients and listen while they talked about their grandchildren or pets. I was hoping to change the negative stigma of the hospital experience to positive, knowing that with just a smile I might have made someone’s experience just a little better. I realized it was a gift to care for someone in need and I want nothing more than to develop and broaden the level of help I can give as well as continue to develop a positive, memorable relationship with every patient I encounter.

Since 8th grade year, I have been part of my high school volleyball program and haven’t stopped pushing myself since the day I showed up at summer conditioning. Having not yet met the head coach, I watched the seniors in awe and listened intently as they explained the workout. Fast forward 4 years and I am the one writing our workout down on the white board. As the girls showed up, voluntarily rolling themselves out of bed, I saw the returning players groan and the bright eyed 8th graders so oblivious to the morning they were about to encounter. I remember back to my first day after conditioning when I could barely walk or sit down on the toilet. I also remember the last day, how strong I was and how I already felt like I was part of the program even before tryouts. Being a part of a team requires commitment and mental strength; I designed the workouts to distinguish between individuals who play to win and those who play not to lose. Even though the coaches weren’t there due to league rules, the girls voluntarily showed up and learned to push through hard days, ultimately making a tremendous impact on not only me, but the players they chose to become. It was an honor for me to witness this and to be part of the reason they succeeded.

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