By Helen Kelly
Our new Plymouth Harbor neighbor is a woman of many talents: medical researcher, massage therapist, fashion model, hiker, skier, world traveler. Born in Norway, the youngest of four children, she was trained in cytology at Radium Hospital near Oslo. She was a member of the team of the renowned doctor who developed the Pap Smear, a method for early cancer detection. This was the start of a circuitous path to a career in medical research.
In her twentieth year, she embarked alone on an ocean voyage to the United States. The plan was to stay for two years, to learn and play. However, a job was necessary. In order to work, she needed a green card through Immigration and due to quotas, she ended up waiting for two years before embarking. Fortunately, along the way a fellow traveler advised her to first seek work as an “au pair” which would provide her a view of local family life and familiarity with New York City. Her youthful enthusiasm opened many doors.
To further advance her knowledge of science and biology, she took courses at Columbia University Medical School while working with “the best” in diagnostic and research labs. She found life in the city challenging and fascinating.
Life in Academia soon offered long vacations, fulfilling Hild’s travel dreams. She made several trips around the world, stopping in exotic places on all continents. When offered a position in the Department of Anatomy at the Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand, she embarked on her longest trip, 360 days. In lieu of a salary, she received room and board, giving her the freedom to explore a new world. Accompanied by friends, she climbed Mt. Egmont, a volcanic mountain on North Island, New Zealand, a daunting experience. Her love of adventure included a four-day hike of the Milford track in the “Southern Alps.” On continuing her trip westward from New Zealand, Hild pursued some unforgettable stops in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, India, Afghanistan and Iran.
For the past twenty five years, Hild has been part of an eye-research team in the Department of Ophthalmology at Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. This gave her the opportunity to visit and become familiar with Sarasota where an annual Ophthalmology meeting, ARVO, has taken place every May.
After retiring, Hild lived in Venice and is now very pleased to be part of the Plymouth Harbor community. Perhaps those of you who are “travel buffs” will arrange a “těte à těte” with her. It is bound to be fascinating.