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Not Your Average Lasagna

Not Your Average Lasagna

Not your average lasagna As I reflect back on the last 10 years as dean of this remarkable faculty and school of medicine, without a doubt, some of my fondest memories will be our student dinners. Back in 2010, as I was preparing to become the “new dean at Queen’s” my wife Cheryl asked me a simple, yet profound question. She said, “how are you going to keep in touch with the students?” Innocent enough, but complex and challenging. I replied I would do a bit of teaching, meet with student leaders, and keep in touch with weekly blogs. Cheryl responded, not bad…but let’s have them over for dinner.

Well, 10 years later, and 1,000 students fed, the student dinners have become a real joy for both Cheryl and I.

Although we have had several menus, Cheryl’s gourmet lasagna was the most common main course. In fact, I think, in the last 10 years, Cheryl and I have cooked over 200 of them. I stand corrected, Cheryl cooked all of them and occasionally I was the sous chef, relegated for the most part to chopping vegetables.

So, of all of my memories as dean, why the dinners? That’s an easy question to answer. Through the dinners, even in some small way, we were able to have a conversation with 1000 remarkable students. Over lasagna, we heard of the incredible array of experiences our students brought to Queen’s. Over a glass of wine or Perrier, we heard about their aspirations, their excitement at being at Queen’s, their initial guesses at career choice, and often, about their upbringing and families. And on more than one occasion, we broke out into song, and I somehow got myself coerced into doing a number for the annual Medical Variety Night!

Like Cheryl’s not-so-average lasagna, the classes of 2014-2023 have been extraordinary. Like the best lasagnas, our students started at Queen’s with a great foundation, sort of like simmering Vidalia onions and fresh minced garlic cooked in extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil. They have a richness to them, like the luxurious béchamel sauce that is secret ingredient of this great lasagna. And none of them are unidimensional, no, like the lasagnas that have three different types of cheeses, they too, bring diversity and complexity to our medical school. And no doubt, just like the home-made lasagnas, they too, all 1,000 of them, are “self-made”. They in year one from scratch, and in a non-compromising process, they matured, became fully baked and ready to start the next phase of their careers.

Our dinners represented what is best about Queen’s Meds: a feeling of family. Having had dinner together, students frequently stopped Cheryl and I on the street to say hello and pet the dog. Having had dinner together, students would wave as I walked into the medical school building. Having had dinner together, students had no hesitation in coming to my office when I advertised that “my door is always open”. And having had dinner together, in a small way, but a very special way for Cheryl and I, we achieved the original goal of staying connected to what is our biggest asset in the medical school…our students.

After 10 years of this great tradition, last night we held the final student dinner at our house. It was a bittersweet evening, but as with every dinner, I have come away feeling energized and proud of the fantastic students we have here in the School of Medicine.

Andrew Pipe, Meds '74

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 13:33

The blog underscored the unique experience that students at Queen's continue to enjoy as a consequence of the remarkable relationships that develop with faculty - who rapidly often become life-long friends and mentors. I'm delighted to note that those interactions which characterized my years at Queen's (OK -- at a remote point in the last century!) continue today...and that the classes are so richly diverse and spectacularly talented.

Andrew Pipe, Meds '74

Thanks Andrew,

Your comments are greatly appreciated. It is remarkable that the Queen’s family traditions seem to be passing on from generation to generation. It’s something that makes me very proud.

All the best,

Richard

Richard Reznick

don Braden Med's '59

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 14:57

Richard, as you finish your time as Dean I would add my thanks to you for your ongoing attention to the education of the students in the School of Medicine.. I would also wish to thank you for your weekly blog , which I have always enjoyed, finding it both entertaining and informative.I too have fond memories of having my clinical skills groups for dinner over the years. I think breaking bread with the students was a most gratifying way of getting to know them as people. MY best wishes to you in your future position at the Royal College

don Braden Med's '59

Thanks so much Don. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

It has been a privilege to be able to carry on some of the traditions that have characterized a Queen’s education.

All my best,

Richard

Richard Reznick

Adriana Carvalhal

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 14:58

When I just joined the Department of Psychiatry back in 2018 and learned about the dinners I was so touched by this tradition.
Very inspirational. Made me think all the times I invited learners that I had a pleasure to work with, for a dinner out. I asked myself why not invite them for a dinner where I can cook? Have been doing that. Thanks Dr. Reznick!

Adriana Carvalhal

Thanks Adriana,

It’s been fun doing this. I also benefit greatly from the fact that Cheryl does all the cooking, and my job, occasionally, is to be the sous chef.

Thanks for commenting.

Richard

Richard Reznick

Donj Jennings, Med's '57

Sat, 03/14/2020 - 16:39

Yes, it has been a long tradition. I remember in the 50's many professors in all of our 6 years, at that time, had us out to dinner. My wife and I have also enjoyed having students out when I was on faculty from '62 to '96. That is what makes us a family. Cheers to All. Don

Donj Jennings, Med's '57

Thanks Don,

It’s been a real joy of our time here at Queen’s to have had the opportunity to engage with our students. I’m glad that the blog invoked many fond memories. All the best, Richard

Richard Reznick

Al Fletcher Meds '69

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:22

"Ditto" what both Don Braden and Don Jennings have written!! Barb and I shared wonderful meals (and other gatherings) with the students in our Mentor Groups.

Al Fletcher Meds '69

Al,
Thanks so much for reinforcing the message that “breaking bread” with our students is meaningful for them as well as their professors.

Richard

Richard Reznick

Rohit Ghate

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 12:18

Dr. Reznick,

A huge congratulations on all of your achievements as Dean of Queen's Medicine over the last decade! What an accomplishment.

I think your wife and I would agree that there was no 'coercing' you into performing at MVN... we were only helping you to realize your talent! I hope to see you on Canadian Idol this upcoming year.

As you know, we're all finding ourselves in a challenging, frightening time. While we may be physically distancing ourselves from one another, this blog is a great reminder that those of us tied to Queen's Medicine continue to share a special connection that transcends any geographical barriers.

Please give Cheryl and Sophie my best. One day, we will get our two-man band back together!

Best,
Ro (Meds 2019)

Rohit Ghate

Ro,
The dinner you attended will forever go down as one of my fondest memories in my professional career. Whether I was coerced or not, I’m not sure, but What I really enjoyed was the multiple practice sessions we had here on Sunday evenings, you, me, Cheryl, Pizza and the dog.

I think you can forget about Canadian Idol, unless you’re referring to me sitting in the crowd and watching you win the contest.

Thanks for your kind words about your memories of Queen’s, especially in these difficult days.

All my best and keep in touch,

Richard

Richard Reznick

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