In Remembrance: Kurtland Ma ’02, ’08MD Died on March 29 2014

On March 29, 2014, the world became a little less joyful because of the untimely passing of Kurtland Ma. Kurtland was fortunate to have a lifetime of love and nurturing from his parents, Danny and Peggy Ma; his older brother, Wayland Ma; and his grandparents, Wing Doy Jimmy and Ellen Lee.  Kurtland was raised in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He stood out academically—he was named a Presidential Scholar during his junior year of high school—while also excelling at varsity tennis at North Canyon High School in Phoenix.  Kurtland matriculated in Yale College in 1998 and quickly found lifelong friends in Silliman College.  He majored in American studies and won the Henry K. Hayase Prize for his senior thesis, “General Tso’s Imperial Dynasty and the Pearl of the Dragon’s Jade Garden Lotus Palace: The History of Chinese Food in America (Serves 4).”  He enjoyed participating on Yale's water polo club team.  After college, he taught English in China and then worked as an au pair in Spain.

With boundless talent and numerous career options, Kurtland remained true to his generous character by choosing to pursue medicine so that he could care for others as a physician.  He returned to Yale two years later to attend Yale Medical School, where he researched another thesis, "The Use of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Its Possible Relationship with Adherence to Highly-Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy in Patients with HIV/AIDS in Hong Kong."

After medical school, he moved to Manhattan to train in Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program.  While in residency, Kurtland again distinguished himself: his correct diagnosis in a patient with a rare presentation of ciguatera poisoning was written up in the New York Times.  Shortly after completing his residency, Kurtland moved home to Scottsdale, Arizona, to spend more time with his family while working at Phoenix Baptist Hospital in Phoenix and Arrowhead Community Hospital in Glendale, Arizona.  One year later, Kurtland moved to West Hollywood, California, to start a job at Memorial Hospital in Gardena, California.

Kurtland embodied joy.  Those who were privileged enough to know him fondly remember his warm smile, infectious laugh, and comforting hugs.  His unconditional love and acceptance of others made him a sought-after confidante. When in Kurtland's presence, whether a friend, family member, or patient, his compassion and undivided attention made it clear that you were the most important person to him in that moment. He was fiercely loyal to his circle of friends, a circle that was both wide and deep.  Kurtland was respected for his intelligence, athleticism (dancing and playing tennis were his favorites), and youthful energy.

International travel was Kurtland's passion.  Some of his favorite destinations included Spain, Japan, India, Croatia, and Suriname.  He excelled at staying in touch through letters, postcards, and souvenirs, therefore it is no surprise that many of his closest friends are from his worldwide travels.  A series of Christmas cards featuring his dog Kingston were particularly artistic and charming.  Kurtland had an adventurous spirit, and he lived his life to the fullest on his quest for happiness. He was a dreamer whose dreams had a magical way of becoming reality through hard work, creativity, and perseverance, and he encouraged those around him to dream big, too.  His enthusiasm and optimism were palpable.

Kurtland’s life was defined by love, and it is with love he is remembered, dearly and forever.  His smile lives on in countless hearts around the world.

—Submitted on behalf of the family.

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