UMHS student Jasmine Rivas. Photo: Courtesy of Ms. Rivas

Editor’s Note: UMHS clinical student Jasmine Rivas, a longtime contributor to the UMHS Endeavour, is getting ready for the 2018 Match. Ms. Rivas sent the following post about a recent inspiring encounter with a homeless man in Miami.


By Jasmine Rivas

I was born and raised in Miami, FL and every so often I find a gem in a corner I have walked or driven by countless times.  The most recent gem: Dave.  The day I met Dave was like most others in South Florida, hot and unpredictable.   What drew my attention to the man sitting on the corner of the street?  His art.  Each piece was complex and profound.  I approached Dave with a big smile and asked if I could hear the story behind his art and share it.  Without any hesitation, Dave returned a smile and said yes.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting on the concrete sidewalk with a pen in one hand and a notebook on my lap. As his story unfolded, I found myself leaning in all the more intrigued.  Dave, a U.S. veteran, had lived in the streets for several decades, struggling to find access to medical care and shelter.

He had a donations basket placed next to his art pieces (made of palm leaves) and told me bits and pieces of his story while pausing to welcome each passer-by as they approached.  A man who experienced undeniable struggle spread his love to all that came his way.

A young couple walked by his art and stopped to commend him for its creativity and beauty, his response, “God is my boss.”  They were two of many who stopped to take a moment and admire his work.  Dave took the time to not only converse with all who walked his way, but to truly be present in the time spent with each person-sharing joy in the form of laughter, songs and stories.

Each piece had a story with a common theme: “STICKTUITIVENESS”.   I smiled when I first heard it because I found it to be the most important lesson for children and adults alike: “Stick to it”.  Despite the hardships and obstacles we face, sticktuitiveness will always see us through.

I found myself pleasantly surprised to see Dave not only giving away smiles and laughter, but art pieces as well.   Every child who pointed and smiled at his art received a piece of it for free.  I watched him tell each child that their form of payment would be R.A.K.; three Random Acts of Kindness.   Dave took his time to explain to each child what random acts of kindness are.

Every parent showed the same reaction, progressing from stern and serious (what does this guy want?), to mildly welcoming (I suppose this is okay…), to heartwarming gratitude (I think this moment just made my day).

At first, I judged how astonished the adults were at another person’s genuine kindness.  However, my second, and more honest, thought was that I was surprised as well.  Witnessing someone without much (in the material sense) be so generous was inspiring.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with news about politics, the economy and other aspects of life we cannot fully control, maintaining perspective will keep us healthier and happier. Despite the path we are on, it’s to our benefit to stay positive and hopeful with a large dose of sticktuitiveness.


About UMHS:

Built in the tradition of the best US universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individual student attention, maintaining small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. We call this unique approach, “personalized medical education,” and it’s what has led to our unprecedented 96% student retention rate, and outstanding residency placements across the US and Canada. UMHS is challenging everything you thought you knew about Caribbean medical schools.



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