A Decade Later, Grads Travel Back to AUC to Get Engaged
Monica Tran of New Orleans had also just started medical school. In the throes of anatomy and biochemistry—the first two courses for students at AUC—Monica took up a study group with her first semester peers. During one particular session, a newcomer named Dave walked in and caught Monica’s eye. From that moment on, the two were inseparable.
A decade and change later, Dave and Monica found themselves back in St. Maarten, supporting their good friend and classmate Dr. Shai Shoshani as he gave the alumni address at AUC’s White Coat Ceremony. On the grounds of the school where they first met, Dave got down on one knee and proposed. Monica said yes.
Finding A Partner and Best Friend in Medical School
Dating while in medical school was about as romantic as you could expect. Much of Dave and Monica’s time was spent studying course material and preparing for national licensure exams, or strengthening friendships with their AUC classmates. But, there was the added bonus of living on the beautiful island of St. Maarten.
When their schedule allowed it, the two searched for sushi restaurants on the Dutch and French sides of St. Maarten (their favorite spot was Aqua Sushi near the airport) and took day trips to nearby Caribbean islands. They fondly remember a special trip to St. Barts for Monica’s birthday.
During their clinical years of study, the couple did their rotations and electives together around the United States, ultimately ending up in Illinois. Monica entered the residency Match in 2009 and Dave in 2010—each successfully matching into a family medicine program: Monica at Glenbrook Family Medicine Center (part of NorthShore University Health System) in Glenview and Dave at Presence Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. They remained in Chicago for another year after residency while Dave completed a fellowship in Sports Medicine.
Traveling the States Together
After Dave completed his fellowship, he and Monica decided it was time for a change. They packed their bags and headed out west with plans to spend time with friends and family.
A few months later, they heard about a government-sponsored Indian health program for physicians just out of residency. With the opportunity to work in the Southwest—an entirely new environment for both of them—it was just the adventure they were looking for. They got back in their car and headed toward Arizona.
“It was one of the best experiences of our lives,” said Dave. “We spent eight months working on Indian reservations in Arizona and then New Mexico—mostly with the Navajo tribe. We were exposed to a new culture, new scenery, and came away from it with a new understanding of transitional medicine.”
After their big adventure out west, Dave and Monica decided to settle down in St. Augustine, Florida last year. For Monica, being in the south puts her back in touch with her New Orleans roots and for Dave, an amateur golfer, St. Augustine is the perfect place to practice his swing.
When asked about the proposal, Dave admits it was something he had been planning for a long time. He always knew that he wanted to propose in St. Maarten but finding time away from work, especially in a new job and a new city, proved challenging. So when Dr. Shoshani asked him to come back to St. Maarten for his White Coat Ceremony alumni address, Dave knew it was his perfect opportunity.
“I told Monica she should come with me—make a mini vacation out of it,” recalls Dave. Monica chimed in, “I had no idea that he was planning a proposal at that time, I was just really excited to get back to the island.”
Dave spent the next few weeks setting everything up. He had already been working with a jeweler on a ring so he expedited the process. In fact, he got the ring just one day before his flight to St. Maarten! And by arriving on the island two days before Monica, he was able to visit AUC’s campus and plot out the perfect spot for the proposal.
“There was a really special place where I knew I wanted to bring her,” he remembers. It’s on top of the school’s dormitory where you can see the lagoon. It’s just so peaceful and we used to go up there at night and look at the stars. That spot has a lot of meaning and significance for us.”
On Monday, January 16, 2017, Dave brought Monica up to that roof. Looking up at the stars, back at the place where they first met, he got down on one knee and proposed. Monica said yes.
Chatting with Dave and Monica today, it’s easy to hear the excitement in their voice. The two are still enjoying the newness of being engaged but they’ve had initial discussions about their wedding.
“We’re thinking about a Spring wedding—perhaps March or April—sometime next year,” said Monica. “I’d love for it to be in my hometown of New Orleans.”