The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Maria and her classmates graduated from Danylo Halytsky National Medical University of Lviv, Ukraine in June of 2009. Her best friend, Crystel, is from Cameroon, Africa.

Standing in the courtyard of Danylo Halytsky’s main building I was surprisingly comfortable in my graduation gown even though it was pretty warm for June. Crystel looked cute in her robe, her usual mob of hair tamed down into a wave. There was a buzz in the air as everyone nervously made small talk, waiting for the ceremony to begin.

“You guys did a very good job for these tassels, Maria.” Crystel said, in her thick French-African accent.

“Thanks! Katie and I worked on them all night. I can’t believe this college is so cheap they couldn’t buy tassels.”

“This college is too cheap I am thinking they will be printing diplomas on toilet paper!”

“Shhh! They are about to begin.” someone in the crowd ordered.

We stood in the sun, squinting up at the podium, as we watched a slew of speakers take the stage. I had to stifle a giggle as a man dressed up as Hippocrates lead us through the Hippocratic Oath. My classmate, Peter, caught my attention while the dean was idealistically talking up the virtues of our university. We mouthed the word “lies”, smiled, and rolled our eyes. Listening to all these administrators was starting to get exhausting. Then they announced the distribution of diplomas.

“Marishka Yudina.”

My heart skipped a beat as I slowly ascended the stage steps. I walked past a line of people who all wanted to shake my hand; however, I focused on the dean. I was all smiles as I approached but when I tried to walk away with my diploma the dean wouldn’t let go. I kept the grin plastered to my face, stared into his tiny eyes, and tugged hard releasing the document from his grip. As I walked off the stage I realized I had finally done it; seven years of school and I was officially a doctor of medicine!


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