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MIT blogger Elizabeth C. '13

Enjoy Life by Elizabeth Choe '13

Farewells and New Beginnings

Today is my first day of school as a PhD student at MIT. Today is also Dr. Abe’s memorial service. Today would have been his 99th birthday.

Dr. Abe was my “American grandfather” since I was 16, without whom I never would have ended up at MIT and probably wouldn’t have ended up as a bioengineer. I am grateful to have had wonderful mentors and scientists and engineers in my life, but he was my favorite; his influence on my life, the most profound.

Ever since I officially left the Admissions office this summer, I’ve been thinking about what to do for my last blog post. I’d planned to doodle something about “Ithaka” by Constantine Cavafy. It’s one of my favorite poems, all about looking toward the future and starting new journeys. But as I get ready to start a new journey of my own, I’ve mostly been thinking about the past and saying goodbye. And I thought that maybe the best send off to you (especially to you aspiring scientists and engineers out there) would be to share my send off to Dr. Abe. He was an example to all and lived a beautiful, full life.

These are some snippets from my last conversation with him, which I was so lucky to film about a month ago at his nursing home in Missouri. There’s a lot that I could say about the lessons you can glean from his story, particularly around joyful curiosity, mentorship, gratitude, and living a good life. A lot of lessons I’m grateful to have as I begin this next chapter of my life. But I’ll let him do the rest of the talking.

Hope your road is a long one and remember that life is meant to be enjoyed. Thanks for sharing life with me this year and I’ll see you around.