I’m proud to say goodbye to 18 graduates of the fields in 2019. Twelve high schoolers and six college students are packing up their personal effects and preparing to vacate the employee locker rooms where they suited up and occasionally showered off.

My customers make a mess from time to time and even as a well-trained gerontologist, I’m never sure if it was the Hollandaise Sauce or a little norovirus but the effect is the same. It’s the magnitude, if you must know: 12 or more cases simultaneously is Hollandaise; two or three cases a shift for a couple of days is just one of the house bugs.

The graduates are leaving with the intangibles: respect for the dignity of old age, teamwork, nobody’s done until everybody’s done, etc.

The taste of healthcare opens so many doors: good jobs, good money, satisfying human service and BIG business with unlimited opportunity.

Over the years, the only common deal breakers for people who leave is a hurdle I can’t overcome: “my mother wants me to be a nurse…”That won’t have the staying power when a long day turns stinky.

Even if nursing isn’t career-suited for some, the study of science, an understanding of diseases and a robust system for problem-solving and successful interventions are applicable skills in many fields.

The intergenerational work settings of Bellamy and Watson require a lot of flexibility for the graduates. Working with their peers, adult supervisors and elderly customers tests the students’ patience, understanding and humility.

I’m grateful to have made their acquaintance and am impressed with their attention to detail. For those who stay behind, the 14 and 15 year old’s working in the kitchen, I welcome you back and look forward to the days when you get your drivers’ licenses.

Your parents’ efforts to get you to work on time that require them to drive 70 MPH up the Watson driveway are impressive. If they will do that, imagine what they’ll do to get you into Dartmouth!