A student whose debt is repaid in service to others

Michelle Hinkey

Michelle Hinkey 1994 –

Michelle Hinkey, currently studying physical therapy at Duke University School of Medicine, has thought a lot about the circumstances and decisions that have brought her to where she is now:

I have been fortunate in many ways – I was born into a loving family and grew up knowing I had the support of my parents, my grandparents, and my community. I loved school and enjoyed a great high school education in Tannersville, New York, and undergraduate studies at CUNY City College. But I value my out-of-the-classroom experiences even more: I was surrounded by amazing people who taught me important lessons and skills which I would not have learned otherwise. I count the gap year I spent caring for my grandmother and working in the Rifton Equipment factory and community kitchen, as well as the time I spent as a companion for a young woman with cerebral palsy, among the many experiences that have shaped me and taught me the importance of service.

While I recognize that I am here at Duke partly because of my own hard work and determination, I know that without all those who have supported me along the way I would never have made it. So I’m inspired to give back to my community and to the world at large. 

Gratitude is a good burden: it grounds me and points me in the direction of giving. My grandfather, who joined the Bruderhof in the 1950s, used to talk about la dette (French for “the debt”). This was the indebtedness he felt for having found faith and a way to live it out in brotherhood. I have the same debt: it will never be paid in full, but I can work towards paying it through loving service to others. I am determined to do my best as a student, and I am committed to caring for my brothers and sisters in the community.

And when I have spent my selfe to the last farthing, my lungs to the last breath, my wit to the last Metaphore, my tongue to the last syllable, I have not paid a farthing of my debt to God.
John Donne, poet and priest
The last practice, and the choir director is asking for more power

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