Cythnia Mondesir – Alumni Honoree 2014 Gala Speech

Good evening. I feel a wonderful sense of pride and privilege in speaking to you this evening as a former student and outdoor educator of the Manice Education Center, as well as a previous honoree.

I am the daughter of Haitian immigrants, a witness to my fathers murder at 4 years old, sister to a brother with schizophrenia and now a pediatrician in Bethel, Alaska.

The arc of my life was crafted from the minute I got off the yellow school bus. The Manice Education Center not only gave me the tools to be a steward of the earth, but the ability to shed the armor of my past experiences and craft my future. In essence I learned how to take of my brother and my family. In this natural environment I could just be Cindi and absorb all that was around me without distraction. I discovered that if I could go up and down Spruce Hill I could do anything.

In my role as a pediatrician, I understand the critical period of development in children and the consequences of adverse childhood events in adults. Christodora provides the mitigating experiences that help build resiliency in children.

Laura Blake and Renel St Jour exemplify the strength of the roots of Christodora. As honorees you will continue to fan the flame of the campfire. May it burn brightly in your future service.

I leave you with my favorite quote by Napoleon Hill:

“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”

Cythnia  Mondesir, MD