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David Geffen School of Medicine

Fountain of Youth

  Class of 1989 meets for 25th Reunion

Dr. Michael Rodriguez (left) with Freddy Meynard, dean of health sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua.
Photo: Courtesy off Dr. Michael Rodriquez

Henry H. Chan, MD ’89 (RES ’93), JD, attended UCLA on a UC Regents Scholarship for both his undergraduate and medical-school education. After completing his residency in anesthesiology, he joined the Permanente Medical Group in 1993. From 2002 to 2006, while working more than 100 hours per week in his clinical practice, he attended Laurence Drivon School of Law at Humphreys College in Stockton, California, at night and graduated as the class valedictorian. At the age of 44, he then successfully passed the California Bar exam on the first attempt and was admitted to the State Bar of California in December 2006. In 2013, Dr. Chang served as chair of the Class of 1989 25th Reunion.

Humankind has been searching for a fountain of youth for millennia, but it just might be closer than you think. Let’s take a pause and think for a moment. According to a National Geographic video, “Stress, Portrait of a Killer,” stress can cause hypertension, dementia and premature death. Obviously, no one can avoid stress completely in modern life. In actuality, a certain level of stress is essential for normal daily functioning. However, excessive stress is linked to overeating, insomnia, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and myriad other health problems. So instead of pounding the table or yelling at your loved ones, take a deep breath and a quick five-second “mental vacation,” and you can make the rest of your life much more bearable. If time permits, go out for a quick run, or take a few days off for a much needed vacation, which can do your body and mind more good than popping yet another Ativan.

If stress can kill, so can isolation. In a study I read long ago, monkeys would prefer the company of other monkeys over food and water. It is a well-known fact that married people tend to be happier and live longer than singles. This phenomenon is especially seen around the holiday season in emergency departments all over the country, when the rate of suicide increases exponentially during a time when family and friends traditionally gather for celebration. Therefore, being well-connected to friends and family is a must in bringing happiness and a sense of youthfulness to an individual.

Recently, I participated on my medical school’s 25th-reunion organizing committee, and at first I was a bit embarrassed to make cold calls to my classmates’ homes or offices to ask for their e-mails to receive updates of the event. The end result of our effort was that we had a historic turnout at the reunion. Although the attendees are now all seasoned physicians in their early 50s, somehow we talked, ate and socialized as if we were back to being first-year medical students. For a while, I really felt like I was 25 years younger.

Our intellectual mind performs similarly to our muscles: The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. I am not suggesting that everyone should pursue one advanced degree after another, but it is imperative to keep an active mind. Higher learning will not only keep the brain engaged to its optimum, it also gives the person a sense of accomplishment that no monetary reward can provide. On the other hand, a lethargic mind is doomed to waste away, as would a piece of atrophied muscle following prolonged bed rest.

If I can be happy, connected with friends and family and constantly gaining new knowledge, I can feel young forever. Now I have yet another reunion to plan!

Class Reunion Committees Forming Renew and reconnect! Since 2013, UCLA Medical Alumni Association members have formed committees to plan their class reunions. The approach has been very successful and also fun for committee members.

Reach out today to help plan your reunion by contacting Valerie Walker via e-mail or by phone at (310) 794-4025.


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