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Melisa Gudzio delivering the 2016 Thank You

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,


I would like to thank the selection committee for inviting me to speak. It is a pleasure to be here with you, among such bright and talented individuals.


I wish to sincerely thank the members of the Father Jean Foundation for their commitment to supporting academic excellence among Ukrainian students.  Thank you to the donors, who choose to invest in strangers’ lives, supporting us in our endeavors. I can only hope that we make you proud. Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped to make this a beautiful evening. Thank you to our families and loved ones for being here to celebrate with us tonight. More than that, though, thank you for supporting us on our journey to get here, through all of its ups and downs. Finally, to the students, thank you for being role models for myself and other Ukrainian Catholic youth.


I was sitting in an auditorium recently, waiting for a lecture on cardiovascular health in Indigenous populations to begin. Unsurprisingly, there was a problem with the metro that morning so the room was empty, or at least more so than usual for an 8:30AM class. The presenter decided to start, sharing with us a Cree saying that translates to, “whoever is meant to be here at this time is here.” It got me thinking about how much we rush through our daily lives, always worrying that we need to be somewhere, doing something.  


This had an impact on me. I had never paused to think that wherever I may be is exactly where I am supposed to be. When I started high school, I was focused on getting into a good CEGEP, a good program would not be enough, it had to be an honours program. Once in CEGEP, I had to focus on getting in to the best university program. During my bachelor’s, I had to make sure everything I was doing would look good on my next application. Everything became about getting to the next step, the next step. I am sure many of you have had the same experience. Always looking forward, moving towards the next goal. This changed for me this year.


I had the honor of serving the public as an emergency room nurse. I am often asked what was the most gruesome thing you saw in the ER? And while I do have stories that would probably turn a few stomachs, I will refrain from sharing them for the sake of the volunteers who prepared the delicious meal. That said, the most gruesome thing I witnessed was in fact, stolen time. A man came in at his wife’s insistence after several weeks of abdominal discomfort. The couple stood out to me because their love for each other was so genuine, you just knew they were best friends, true soulmates. He was so happy to tell me about how he had just retired and was looking forward to finally being able to “enjoy life with his wife.” You can imagine how it broke my heart when I was given an order to draw blood on him to test for a cancer marker. He was later diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case. I watched as a newlywed not only lost her husband, but the life that she thought they would create together. I watched as two sons realized they would not be playing hockey with their dad again. All of these cases illustrates stolen time.


You may think this is far removed from you, but I can assure you it is not. So while you are getting to wherever it may be that you are going, remember that time is the most valuable thing we have.  Take the time to learn how to make Borscht with your Baba; take the time to hand write a beautiful letter to a loved one instead of sending a text; or in my case, take the time to enjoy this evening with all of you, when I have a cardiology midterm on Monday.


To the members of the Foundation, thank you for choosing to take your time to honor Father Jean’s legacy and for investing in our community.


To the recipients, I will leave you with this: Enjoy the ride and trust that everything will fall into place. And know, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Congratulations! Дякую

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