Meet Michaela Gruber, our December volunteer of the month
- Can you tell us what you do for EHA and when you started?
Over six years ago, I was one of the initiators of what is now the “YoungEHA” and the “Young-EHA Committee”. It was at TRTH 2013, where the Oversight Committee had kindly invited me to be a “peer mentor” as one of the researchers who were in the inaugural TRTH group 2010. People from EHA staff and from ASH and I were trapped in the background-scenery of the production of a promotional film. After shortly pretending to talk for the film we switched to suddenly discussing this idea of a young group within EHA, which had been on my mind since 2010, but also on the minds of people from the EHA office. They encouraged us to discuss the idea with Christine Chomienne, who was EHA President back then. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld from TRTH 2013 joined the idea immediately with great enthusiasm. So we proposed the idea to Ans Steuten from the EHA office, who supported us. And Christine Chomienne was also supportive and suggested that this had to be started and initiated “bottom up”. The next thing we needed thus was a strong bottom, which over the next couple of months we found in colleagues from TRTH 2010 and TRTH 2013. From then on, supported by EHA, we met at each annual meeting, starting in Stockholm 2013. Together we created the vision of YoungEHA, while finding increasing and absolutely amazing support from the EHA office and other committees. The core team created back in 2013 has carried the foundation of YoungEHA until today. Now YoungEHA is installed as a big EHA committee with 12 members, regular meetings and a roster of rotation. Enthusiastic new members from all over Europe and different backgrounds who just joined this year, while some of us inaugural members are starting to rotate off and make space for more new members with new spirit and ideas. There is a complete YoungEHA track at the Annual Congress, the YoungEHA Research Meeting, a separate website and a great team with amazing support from EHA, full of ambitious plans and ideas for the months and years to come.
- How did you become a volunteer? Who helped/encouraged you to become one?
This just happened naturally after we proposed the idea of YoungEHA and found support from EHA.
- What is your motivation on volunteering for EHA?
I felt very privileged as a TRTH mentee, with the amazing possibilities to build exciting friendships and networks and getting the mentoring from hematology leaders from all over Europe and the US. I wanted others to also get some of the inspiration and support I got through EHA. I wanted to help in making this access easier for people who were not so lucky to have strong support and networks from their direct local supervisors. And I wanted to give back, having seen the great work done by junior groups in other societies, I thought it would be great if EHA had a group like that, too.
- Why do you choose to serve EHA?
As a hematologist and physician-scientist in Europe, to me EHA is a professional “home”. I strongly believe that a European representation for hematology is of utmost importance. And EHA, the EHA staff, the EHA senior people – they all carry common visions, enthusiasm and a great portion of idealism. It makes total sense to me to work with these people, for these aims. And it is great fun.
- What does being a volunteer for EHA give you/do to you?
Purpose. To me it’s one of the most rewarding things to do, being able to contribute to making the world just a little better. As a scientist, I hope to make an impact with my science. As a physician, I hope to make a positive impact on my patients’ lives. At EHA, I feel I can make an impact on the future of science and clinic in hematology. That’s just amazing.
- What would you say to others who would like to volunteer for EHA as well?
Try it. Discover what you can do.