Proclaiming Love From the Rooftop

Friday, February 24, 2017

By Anthony Giornalista
February 24, 2017

As part of their training, Rush Medical College students learn how to navigate the heart. Andrew McDonald found a route to the heart that isn’t taught in class: Cary’s Garden on the ninth floor of Rush’s Tower.

On a brisk evening on Feb. 15, McDonald, a third-year medical student at Rush, proposed to Kristy Strong on the rooftop garden. She said yes through some tears, and her shimmering engagement ring fit right in with the dazzling backdrop of Chicago’s skyline.

“I remembered Rush has a cool garden, which, in my opinion, has the best view of the entire city,” says McDonald, who told Strong he wanted to show her the impressive view of the skyline following a belated Valentine’s Day dinner. “There’s a panorama of the entire city that you can’t find anywhere else. I gave my speech, talked about our love and our history, and it all worked out.”

McDonald’s idea, though, took some resourcefulness to pull off. Cary’s Garden* is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people who work at Rush, but it is closed in the winter, so McDonald spent two weeks trying to figure out how to make his plan work.

He leaned on a team that was set on making his dream happen. McDonald recruited his academic advisor, Jill Volk, director of admissions and recruitment at Rush Medical College, and Chris Kanakis, director of general resources at Rush University. Together they proposed the idea to Rush’s Security Services department, which obliged with the caveat that the couple be escorted by a security officer.

“People were very helpful,” McDonald says. “I thought this would be an annoyance to people, but everyone I talked to in the Rush community was super-excited. I couldn’t have done it without the great sense of teamwork at Rush. It’s kind of a big family in a way in that people here are very open to help, which is something I see often at Rush.”

The couple met as undergraduate students at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington more than six years ago. She was a barista at a local coffee shop he would frequent often, admiring her from afar for a year before finally working up the nerve to talk to her. Now they’re preparing to get married in spring of 2018, when McDonald expects to be preparing for a residency in internal medicine following graduation.

Strong, a Chicago-area nurse studying to be a nurse practitioner, is prepared to follow McDonald wherever residency takes him. She followed him up to the rooftop garden, and that worked out pretty well for everyone.


*The Carylon Foundation campaign gift in support of Rush facilities is recognized in the naming of Cary’s Garden in remembrance of the late Carylon (“Cary”) Hemmelstein, wife of the late Julius L. Hemmelstein and mother of Rush trustee Marcie Hemmelstein.