A letter to my mentor(s)

I look back at the times when all I had was my dream. The dream to find my purpose and be at the service of life in an authentic way. And I must say, it has been a long journey. From a housekeeper in a small, beautiful town of Minnesota to a graduate student at NYU. It has been a struggle; it has been a difficult, painful road that has however taken me in the right direction. I was twenty years old, and it was my first time traveling alone outside of Albania with minimal knowledge of English. It was hard, but it just made my journey more colorful, adventurous and funnier. My struggle with language and the funny moments of the ways I was adapting will remain good memories, along with all the amazing people I met.

A lot of times I had to keep my dreams and visions to myself, especially when I came to New York and I found myself being surrounded by a different environment. I was working and surrounding myself by people who had nothing in common with me; but sometimes you can’t choose; especially in circumstances I was in. So, the expression of “surround yourself with people who are positive and want the best for you” would make me angry at that time, because not everyone has that choice. This made me empathize and helped me develop a nonjudgmental view of people who find themselves stuck in toxic environments or relationships (something so valuable for the future that was awaiting for me).But when you have a bigger goal, when you have a bigger purpose, you can look at it as a temporary state to get where you want to. A state from which you can learn; develop resistance, patience, and learn to love yourself even more.

And here I am today. Despite everything, I kept doing what I loved. I became a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. I am doing a job I love. I studied Biology and brain sciences as I always wanted. I continued the journey of self-discovery, writings and science as I wanted. People who know me, know how passionate I am about teaching. I took in any opportunity to teach: from helping classmates, to helping students in general, working with WileyPlus( a great learning and teaching company and environment), to now being a Clinical Assistant Professor at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.

However, I didn’t do this alone. As much as we want to believe that our talent, hardworking, intelligence or expertise is all we need to succeed and is all what got us where we are; that is not true. At least not for me. I have been blessed to meet great mentors along my journey and I hope to meet more. Vera Ismailgeci, Thomas Hoffman, Maryam Bamshad, Dr. Alain Cunqueiro, Dr. Inessa Goldman are so far my mentors who played an important role in my life, and I will always be thankful. A mentor is a blessing. Vera Ismailgeci was the first mentor who taught me how to be a great sonographer. During my internship at UDMI, she guided me and gave me all the tools necessary to become who I wanted to. There is no competition. A mentor doesn’t compete with you, but guides you, believes in you, and helps you realize your own potential. She showed me all the tricks she knew, and she always advised me to follow other sonographers she thought were the best in specific specialization. She didn’t keep me only under her wing. She let me free, she allowed me to learn also from others, and now I realize what that really means. She wanted me to succeed! Now I am able to use the same with my students.

Thomas Hoffman, was my manager at the hospital I am currently working (Albert Einstein-Montefiore).  When he hired me, I only had one year experience, but he saw through me. He recognized my desire to learn and grow, and he challenged me in a way that I felt safe enough to actually learn. His wisdom, his experience, the knowledge he shared with me,  gave me strength and confidence. He prepared me to handle the whole department on my own, overnights. He is now retired, but he keeps supporting me, and thanks to the continued support, I am now living my dream of teaching at SUNY. Dr. Cunqueiro and Dr Goldman are the radiologist I love working with. They played an important role in my professional and individual growth. They supported me when I was preparing to go to medical school. They went beyond their duty and always took the time to answer any question, review any case, and be so understanding and supporting when I was dealing with difficult cases at work. It made my job easier and more joyful. The desire to learn more grew over time; because I was not intimidated or afraid to ask questions, even if the question sometimes sounded stupid in my head.

Professor Maryam Bamshad is the reason I am becoming a psychotherapist. She changed my life. While planning to go to medical school, my gut feeling was making me question my decision, but I couldn’t see the way out. I couldn’t see what my gut feeling was telling me. Thankfully, she came in my life; and when I was presenting a neuroscience research case; she saw me! She saw my purpose, my potential. She saw what I couldn’t see in myself. She was and continues to be a driving force for my success. It is because of her that this website came to life. She continues to support me and she continues to be my mentor despite the fact that I am no longer her student. But this is the beauty of mentorship. It’s a lifelong relationship. A lifelong impact. A lifelong gratitude that makes me be better, feel better and live better. I hope one day I will be able to give, what I have received!

Thank you for being part of my life!

Forever grateful, Veneta.

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