Dr. Braca Cantor
Dr. Braca Cantor’s favorite song is “Edelweiss” -- but not because she is a huge fan of The Sound of Music. It’s the show tune she and her Senior Friend often performed at the Asbury Towers Retirement Center; Cantor sang while her Senior Friend played the piano.
“I would see people who rarely have any emotion on their face actually smiling,” said Cantor. “Sometimes they’d even cry. It was wonderful to bring them joy.”
As an undergraduate at DePauw, Cantor coordinated the school’s Senior Friend Program, matching students with elderly individuals looking for companionship. She even founded a similar initiative, Senior Buddy, during her medical school career at IUPUI. Cantor met with her husband-wife buddies weekly and is eternally grateful for their memorable times singing and talking current events over lunch. She even helped edit their memoir titled, “Youth to a Golden Age”, uncovering how they found love and married each other later in life. For Cantor, it was a “special capstone to our four-year friendship”.
Even at a young age, Cantor always had a special appreciation for her elders. Her mother worked multiple jobs to pay for her private schooling while also introducing her to the value of service. “We started doing things together, like raking leaves at community or disabled centers or in an elderly neighborhood.”
She quickly learned that community service makes her feel “more energized, focused, and present.” Even though she carried a heavy academic load, she made time for volunteering because “it centered me, gave me gratitude.”
In sixth grade, Cantor was one of 30 students accepted into United Way of Central Indiana’s Youth as Resources (YAR) Board in Marion County. Comprised of 15 youth and 15 adults, YAR allocated an average of $40,000 biannually to youth-led volunteer community service projects within Central Indiana. Cantor led information sessions teaching students how to apply for the grants. She considered it an honor and special opportunity to work alongside her peers while also learning from adult professionals.
Continuing to learn from her elders, Cantor aims to live her grandfather’s mantra, “with reach comes responsibility”. She is a Geriatric Medicine Fellow at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Department of Family Medicine, and feels her whole life has been leading up to this point.
“I am committing my career to serving the quality of life of older adults; that is my mission.”