- By Dana Sparks
In the Loop: Surprise graduation party for patient transitioning to new life
Instead of walking the stage to receive her college degree, Alisha Valles was recovering in the hospital. But her nurses weren't going to let the milestone pass without a proper celebration.
Alisha Valles had completed her final exams for degrees in economics and computer science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. But a few days later, instead of walking the stage with the other members of the class of 2018, Alisha was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a vaginoplasty. "I joked that it was my graduation present," Alisha tells us.
Missing the pomp and circumstance was no joke to Alisha's care team at the Transgender and Intersex Specialty Care Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. "I knew how much work she had put in," Gwenyn Anderson says. "We needed to celebrate this accomplishment." So Anderson, one of Alisha's nurses, went into party-planning mode.
The next morning, after signing well-wishes on a graduation card, Anderson and her colleagues entered Alisha's room with balloons, banners and gifts. "I was shocked," Alisha tells us. "It meant a lot to me. Despite only knowing me for a couple of days, they really truly cared about me as a patient and a person. The card is a literal treasure that I will never lose or get rid of."
Knowing the impact the gesture had on Alisha means a great deal to Anderson. "It's moments like this that I love and live for: to see the joy on the faces of my patients," she tells us. Read the rest of the story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.