My Mother’s Pearls

Archived column.

Jency Daniel Jency Daniel (6 Posts)

Columnist Emeritus

Albany Medical College


I’m Jency, a graduate of Siena College in New York where I received a BA in biology and a minor in Franciscan Service and Advocacy. I am currently in the Class of 2016 at Albany Medical College as part of the Siena/AMC combined-degree program in Science, Humanities, and Medicine. What you’ll read from me will be an amalgamation of my life experiences and my non-academic thoughts–a mingling of the lighthearted and the thought-provoking. Though a laundry list could never truly encapsulate my (or anyone’s) deepest life’s passions, in a nutshell they are (in no particular order): travel, photography, film, literature, writing, graphic and interior design, comedy, real hip hop, onion rings, and–above all, and in all seriousness–this irresistible pull I feel towards society’s underserved, marginalized populations. They are those whom I fear we, as blossoming medical professionals, will be ill-equipped to care for unless we take positive steps to broaden our horizons and circles of inclusion.

My Mother’s Pearls

My mother is a very simple woman. Though she may be a well-respected physician at Columbia University, you might never know it if you saw her. She dresses simply, she speaks kindly, and she cares endlessly. Her wealth lies not in her tangible possessions–she doesn’t even own a pearl necklace. Her pearls are of wisdom, and it is those pearls that I hope to share with you.




“Life is all About Peaks and Valleys. For Every Valley, There Will be a Peak.”

Remembering this pearl can be either humbling or comforting, depending on whether you find yourself in a peak or a valley. I hear it most often from my mother during “valley” moments. It’s the “silver lining” or “light at the end of the tunnel” concept. It is by no means a new sentiment, but it is one that bears repeating. Whether you’re a comrade in the midst of Step 1 studying, making a difficult transition from …

“It Takes Two Hands Clapping to Make a Noise”

Ever since my siblings and I were in elementary school, my mother’s pearls have been circulating in our minds. For a while I may have thought there were no new pearls to be shared, but my mom continues to surprise us with hidden gems of wealth, right at the moments we happen to need them. I heard this particular pearl recently when venting my frustrations about difficult people to my mother. I later learned it …

“The Roots are Bitter, but the Fruit is Sweet”

Little did I know this adage was, in fact, Aristotelian in origin and not dreamed up by my mother. Nevertheless, it is one I remember first hearing recently: somewhere along the line as I progressed from high school to college and now to medical school. As I felt more intense academic pressure, as I complained more about the volume or difficulty of what I had to study, or if I was just plain exhausted—these were …

“Milk is Only for Crying Babies”

Perhaps it was the combination of her being a mother and a pediatrician that made this pearl in particular one of my mother’s most frequently uttered—sometimes with a stern motherly tone, and other times in a teasing, singsong way. It’s a saying that she heard quite a bit while growing up in Kerala, India, and it became one that she not only took to heart, but ultimately defined her very life by. I must admit …

“What Goes Around Comes Around”

While the aphorism “what goes around comes around” is by no means original to my mother, she most certainly repurposed it.* Along with her emphasis on the importance of education, this is a phrase that I remember being one of her earliest and most frequent messages to me and my siblings. When I think of how this phrase is generally used in pop culture, it’s a thinly veiled reminder that, sooner or later, the universe …

“People Can Take Every Wealth Away From You Except One—Your Education”

It is powerful timing that I write the first entry for this column—a tribute to my mother—on Sept. 1, 2013. Today, my Ammachi (my maternal grandmother) passed away. Seeing those words is still a fresh wound, forcing me to externalize a reality that my heart and my mind have yet to come to terms with. This is the woman who helped to raise my two siblings and me; who raised my mother and her two siblings as …

Jency Daniel Jency Daniel (6 Posts)

Columnist Emeritus

Albany Medical College


I’m Jency, a graduate of Siena College in New York where I received a BA in biology and a minor in Franciscan Service and Advocacy. I am currently in the Class of 2016 at Albany Medical College as part of the Siena/AMC combined-degree program in Science, Humanities, and Medicine. What you’ll read from me will be an amalgamation of my life experiences and my non-academic thoughts–a mingling of the lighthearted and the thought-provoking. Though a laundry list could never truly encapsulate my (or anyone’s) deepest life’s passions, in a nutshell they are (in no particular order): travel, photography, film, literature, writing, graphic and interior design, comedy, real hip hop, onion rings, and–above all, and in all seriousness–this irresistible pull I feel towards society’s underserved, marginalized populations. They are those whom I fear we, as blossoming medical professionals, will be ill-equipped to care for unless we take positive steps to broaden our horizons and circles of inclusion.

My Mother’s Pearls

My mother is a very simple woman. Though she may be a well-respected physician at Columbia University, you might never know it if you saw her. She dresses simply, she speaks kindly, and she cares endlessly. Her wealth lies not in her tangible possessions–she doesn’t even own a pearl necklace. Her pearls are of wisdom, and it is those pearls that I hope to share with you.