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Stories that inspire

See how people like you are using their talents to make a difference

Dave is changing lives for the better in his small community

After a life in public service, Dave isn’t slowing down. His volunteer work driving those in need and mentoring young people is as rewarding as his career.
Elderly man sitting at diner table with young man

“I’m trying to be a positive male influence.”

View From the Top

Dave-Final 4
Soundmix 2
Password: tiaa

[music]

Speaker
I grew up in Chautauqua High, which was a small community where everyone knew everyone. I attended Miami University, Middletown and Oxford campus. I had got a summer co-op job with the Ohio Department of Transportation and I stayed with State of Ohio DOT for almost 30 years.

I decided to retire and everybody said, 'Why would you want to retire at almost 47 years old?' And I said, "Why not? I can be productive in other areas after retirement."

When we relocated to Appleton, I started as a volunteer driver for Allegany County Volunteer Services. We are driving people that don't have mass transit available to maybe a doctor's appointment or someone is having a supervised visit with a social worker and their child.

Female speaker
David, thank you so much for transporting.

Dave
And then on the mentoring/mentee program is set up to help children and young adults between 7 to 17 years that may be from broken homes. So I'm trying to be a positive male influence for my 15-year-old mentee and it's just as rewarding volunteering as it was working in the public sector.

Male speaker
Toughest part was the 90-degree angles.

Dave
Yeah, it looks great. Fantastic work.

I saw my mom. She paid all the bills. And she taught me how to manage money and to be frugal. And so Jean Marie and I have been very frugal, both of us participating in our retirement portfolio for future needs and I was just so thrilled that, when I was working for a part-time job and I was permitted to get into their 403(b) and it just so happened to be TIAA was one of the options.

We have to take care of ourselves for our future. And the way to do that is to pay yourself each payday, with your first job to your last job. Because you'll be retired sooner than you think.

Retirement, to me, is all about giving back to those in need in our society.

[music]

This story describes the circumstances and experiences of a specific participant from one of the companies in the TIAA organization ("TIAA"). It may not be representative of the experience of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual results and experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not deposits are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax and legal advisors to address your specific needs and circumstances.

TIAA Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products.

©2016 Teachers Insurance Annuity Association of America, New York, NY 10017.

C34797

John is giving orphans hope for a brighter future

As an orphan himself, John knows what it’s like to feel abandoned. That’s why he and his wife opened their own orphanage in Matamaros, Mexico—to provide other children the opportunities to dream and succeed.
Goal Line

“To be able to give them a family … it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

View From the Top

Leslie Crus Vazquez: I met John and Cindy Shinsky at the City of Children’s home in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. When we met I was 14 years old. When I first arrived at the City of Children’s home in Matamoros, I felt very nervous because I had never been in a place like this. But they treated me like one of their daughters without knowing my story and without knowing who I was.

Leslie Crus Vazquez: He told us he was also an orphan. And despite being an orphan and living in a children’s home, he was able to be successful. I learned what it means to be share, to live together, and most importantly, what it means to be a family.

Leslie Crus Vazquez: I think that if they had not built the home in Matamoros, I wouldn’t be here, and who knows what my life would be like?

John Shinksy: I know what it feels like to be abandoned.

John Shinksy: I know what it feels like to not be accepted.

John Shinksy: And for our children to be in those kinds of situations and to know that both Cindy and I can not only give them a home, but to be able to give them a family of someone who loves them and cares for them, it's the most beautiful thing in the world.

GOAL LINE a film by Stephanie Wang Breal TIAA 100 Years Celebrating the difference makers who are shaping the next century.

John Shinksy: Football changed me in many, many different ways.

John Shinksy: First of all, it became my family.

John Shinksy: My name is John Shinsky.

John Shinksy: I got started in football

John Shinksy: In a little league program when I went to my foster family's home, outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

John Shinksy: My junior year in high school, I started excelling in sports.

John Shinksy: I was receiving letters from various universities that were interested in me, and then, in my senior year, I received a full football scholarship.

Teammate: Every time he stepped on the field, every time he put on his pads, every time he went through any drill or element of the game, he was always totally committed to that particular activity that we were doing. This, this big, tough guy, had the biggest heart and was concerned about everybody, and a tremendous teammate.

John Shinksy: This is, this is Parmadale, the orphanage that I went to.

John Shinksy: We all lived together in one floor.

John Shinksy: It was just a whole different culture.

John Shinksy: Toughest kid ruled, you followed the rules, you did what you needed to do.

John Shinksy: But at the same time, you know, I ended up making friends with a lot of these guys here.

John Shinksy: I was born in Lorain, Ohio on November fifth, 1951.

John Shinksy: At age eight, my father passed away, and at that time, that was quite challenging for me.

John Shinksy: But even the more challenging thing that happened was,

John Shinksy: I lost my entire family, because at that point, my mother couldn't take care of me.

John Shinksy: One day, my mom told me that there's going to be a couple of guys picking me up and taking me to a place to stay for a while.

John Shinksy: And there were two men, they came and got me, and I had a little luggage, and I got in the car, and drove away, and that was it.

John Shinksy: When I turned eighteen, I went back to Lorain, Ohio and knocked on my house door to re-meet my mom.

John Shinksy: And I said, "Mom, I need to ask you a question."

John Shinksy: And then I said, "Why did you give me up?"

John Shinksy: And she said, "I gave you up because I loved you more than I loved myself."

John Shinksy: The sacrifice that my mom made to give me up so that I could have a better life really makes this special.

John Shinksy: It isn't something you could script out.

John Shinksy: It's just the way my life unfolded.

John Shinksy: If you're in a good place where you are today, and you've been able to not only become somebody of value but also be able to make contributions with your life, then everything that happened during your life during that time contributed to it, as happy or as sad as it is.

John Shinksy: Oh!

John Shinksy: I chose to go back down to Parmadale, the orphanage, because I wanted to see where I came from.

John Shinksy: I said, "Dear God, I've been so blessed, to be able to have a college degree, to be able to play football, to be able to now be employed."

John Shinksy: I said, "Someday I want to be able to build a home for kids just like me."

Cindy Shinksy: When John told me he wanted to open an orphanage, quite frankly, I thought he was a little crazy.

Cindy Shinksy: But he was very persistent, and it was, you know, "Someday I'm going to open an orphanage."

John Shinksy: I was doing some consulting in Texas, and I sat next to a young man on a plane, and I said,

John Shinksy: "What are you doing?" "Oh," he says, "I'm going on spring break, and I'm going to work at this orphanage down in Mexico."

Cindy Shinksy: John said to the young man, "Send me some pictures, send me some information about it."

John Shinksy: I went down and visited that orphanage, and as I was talking to the people, I said to them,

John Shinksy:"What can I do to help you?"

John Shinksy:And they said, "We need a new orphanage."

John Shinksy:And when they said that, I knew that was the calling.

Multiple Children: Home to me is… A blanket to cover myself. Family. Security. Love. Responsibility and work. Home is about sharing it with others. Home is a place where you can be with your family. Home is our family, it’s not just a house. It’s everything we have.

Cindy Shinksy: There's always a constant struggle with getting enough resources to fund the orphanage.

Cindy Shinksy: TIAA has done a wonderful job of helping my husband and I invest our money in a way that we can help fund the orphanage into perpetuity.

John Shinksy: I tell our children every time I see them that education is the equalizer for them.

John Shinksy: They've had challenges in their life, but by having a quality education, that equalizes them to their peers.

John Shinksy: Our children at the orphanage understand that we're not just investing into them for today, we're investing into them for tomorrow, and that they're going to get good quality education, they're going to be able to get jobs, they're going to become productive citizens, and they're ultimately going to contribute back to the orphanage and contribute back to helping children just like them.

This article describes the opinion and experience of one individual. It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not bank deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

©2017 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

338728

Nicola is helping find cancer treatments for kids by curing dogs

Nicola is using a new canine cancer treatment to help dogs’ immune systems fight back, adding years to their lives. The positive results can potentially be applied to the same cancer in children in the future.
Dog Years

“If we learn from each other, we can move forward faster in human and veterinary medicine.”

View From the Top

 Dr. Nicola Mason
When did I know I wanted to be a veterinarian? Probably when I was about six or seven. And I've never thought of doing anything else. I always blame my parents, because we were never allowed any animals. You know, when you're not allowed something you always want it.

Title
DOG YEARS

Caption
A film by YORUBA RICHEN

Title
TIAA 100 YEARS / Celebrating the difference makers who are shaping the next century

Dr. Nicola Mason
My name is Nicola Mason, I'm an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Nicola Mason to dog
Shall we? Shall we?

Dr. Nicola Mason
I run a translational research laboratory, which focuses on cancer immunotherapies, novel treatments to stimulate the immune system to target cancers. And our patient population are mostly dogs.

Dr. Nicola Mason
And the idea is that, not only can we help dogs with cancer, but we can actually spin some of these trials now around to actually help humans with the same types of cancer.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
How are you doing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Good how are you?

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Hi, big man, how are you? Hello, how are you? Look, he's got his new shoes on.

Administrator to Dr. Nicola Mason
This is Dexter?

Dr. Nicola Mason
It is, yes.

Administrator
So, this is just the tag for Dexter.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Excellent. Thank you.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
What's he got in here?

Prakash Melvani
[Laughs]

Dr. Nicola Mason
Here we go! [Laughs] Who's this?

Prakash Melvani, Dexter's Owner, New Haven, CT
We discovered that Dexter had cancer when we came back from a walk and he had exhibited a bit of a limp.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Activity level, how's he doing with that?

Prakash Melvani
He always was very active. So we thought maybe it's a torn ACL or something like that.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Three miles a day?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Yeah. Two and a half to three a day.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Okay.

Dr. Nicola Mason
So he was diagnosed with a very aggressive bone cancer called osteosarcoma. And that was in his right hind leg. And the course of action is amputation, and then follow-up chemotherapy. And even with that, the survival times are about a year.

Prakash Melvani
You know, animals, they become part of your family. So, it was devastating. The outlook was pretty bleak at the time. Do you want to put your dog through an amputation, through all that, and still have only the same amount of time? One day, when I was waiting in the waiting room, they told us that there was a clinical trial going on for osteosarcoma.

Dr. Nicola Mason
The biggest issue, as there is with many of these types of cancers, is that whilst you can get rid of the primary tumor, the problem is the metastatic disease, the cells that have already peeled off the tumor and have gone around the body and are hiding somewhere. And those are the cells that are going to be responsible for relapse, and for cancer elsewhere. The idea of this new immunotherapy is to educate the patient's immune system to actually go and find those tumor cells, recognize them, and then specifically eliminate them. Then the patient should be, ideally, cancer-free.

Prakash Melvani
Every time you're down here for a check-up, you're hoping for the best. And he cleared six months, twelve months, eighteen months. And then he just kept going.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
And he's eleven now?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
He'll be eleven in January. Christmas Eve will be his five years out.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Five year "ampuversary." Yeah. No coughing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
No sneezing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
No problems in terms of him being painful anywhere else?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No. Part of it is that we check every morning to make sure that all his joints are fine, his spine is fine. He is getting old because, you can see he is getting grumpier as well.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
[Laughs] Getting grumpy!

Dr. Nicola Mason
This is a disease that we see relatively frequently in large and giant-breed dogs like this chap here. But we tend to see it in dogs that are older. And that's actually in contrast to the human situation, where we tend to see this type of tumor in children.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Osteosarcoma in dogs is almost identical to the cancer in children in every way: how it behaves, how it spreads, how it responds to certain chemotherapies. So, we really believe that with these very positive responses we're seeing in the dog, we might be able to translate that over into children. And that would be incredibly important.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Come on, then, let's go!

Female Tech
He's a brave Dexter!

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Stay, stay.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Each patient is telling you something. Luke was a non-amputated dog, survived two and a half years. Scarlet was one of the first dogs on the amputated trial, bless her. She didn't do very well.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Forty to fifty thousand dogs in the United States a year will get osteosarcoma. And that's in stark contrast, fortunately, to children, where we're looking at maybe about eight hundred. It's difficult to study rare or orphan diseases. So that's where this whole idea of "One Medicine, One Health" is important, because we can run these trials in dogs that desperately need new therapies, and we have plenty of these dogs coming in. There's been renewed interest in this idea of "One Health," this idea that we can learn from each other, and if we do learn from each other, we can move forward faster in both human and veterinary medicine. And that's really what we're sort of living every day here.

Allie Lockhart, Research Assistant, Penn Vet
It's breakthrough stuff that we're doing here. There's not very many labs that are doing this kind of thing. And we're seeing results. We're seeing them live out much longer than expected.

Caption
Dr. Mason's groundbreaking trials have generated excitement among researchers developing cancer immunotherapies in both canine and human patients.

Dr. Nicola Mason
I feel very privileged to do what I do. Being here at Penn, I only have to walk a hundred yards, and I can be amongst the major players in cancer immunotherapy in the world.

Yvonne Paterson, Ph.D, Professor of Microbiology, UPenn
I think it's very innovative. She must be in the top five percent, I would think, in the country, in terms of having the wherewithal to do this kind of work and to really be innovative and make a difference.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Certainly, having that job security, financial security, is really important. You know, I can focus on what I do every day and what I love to do, and Penn and TIAA can take care of everything else. And I don't have to worry about it.

Dr. Nicola Mason
This looks pretty good.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
So, we have his results back from his radiographs, and it's good news. We don't see any evidence of spread of the cancer into his chest.

Dr. Nicola Mason
When they get onto these trials, the owners, they come here and they have some hope.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
I'm very, very pleased with him. We're five years out now, and things look really very good.

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Excellent.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Good news.

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Thank you.

Prakash Melvani
Working with Dr. Mason has been great the whole time. Dexter is living life as if he had never lost a leg. That's all we can ask for.

[music]

This article describes the opinion and experience of one individual. It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not bank deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

©2017 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

326498

Gary has made the move from physicist to wood carver

Having grown up in a city housing project, Gary became a successful physicist. He worked hard, saved his money and is now able to pursue what he loves doing most.
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“You don’t retire from a job … you retire to your passion.”

View From the Top

Gary Final Cut
Music Option 1

Gary

I grew up in Brooklyn in a city housing project and I was what today you would call a nerd. I graduated Cornell University with a Ph.D. in physics and I started working for the government.

I was an experimental scientist, so I did a lot of work in the lab. I met my wife, Darlene, at a Navy laboratory.

I retired from the federal government in 1998 and I immediately started working for CalTech, which was the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

When I retired from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I was ready to start a whole new phase of my life and so I started doing my wood carving full-time. The thing I like about wood is that it was once alive and it has life-giving qualities. Different woods feel different. They have different colors, they have different weights.

Before I start a project, I usually find a piece of wood and, every once in a while, I'm looking at a piece and I see what I want to do with it. The wood is telling me what to carve rather than me imposing a shape or something on the wood.

I carve birds primarily, in fact almost entirely, because I have birds. I have pet birds. My wife, Darlene, had a pet bird, she had a parakeet when she was growing up. Today we have 14 of them and I love the birds.

I have two big messages that I've learned in my life that apply to retirement. You don't retire from a job or from a position. You retire to your passion. And make sure that your financial situation is stable and is going to protect you in the future. Being frugal, learning how to save money, learning the value of investing-all of those things got me aimed in the right direction. And then, when I started working for Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I had a 403(b) account with TIAA and I put as much money as I could into it.

Having grown up in a city housing project, I've got a house I designed, I live on property that I love. I've got everything I want and so I'm really enjoying retirement now.

This article/story contains edited excerpts of an interview that describes the circumstances, opinions, and experiences of a specific participant from one or more of the companies in the TIAA organization ("TIAA"). The circumstances, opinions, and experiences depicted may not be representative of the circumstances, opinions, and experiences of other TIAA customers and are not indicative of future performance or success. Individual results and experiences will vary.

C29529

Judy’s aiming for 100

Just because she’s no longer working doesn’t mean she isn’t busy. In fact, she’s never been busier. See how this forward-thinking octogenarian continues to shake things up in her world.
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“I’m actually better off than when I was working.”

View From the Top

[music playing]

(Judy)
I grew up in New York City in Greenwich Village.

I went to Queens College and took one psychology course and said, "This is what I want to do."

From then on, I went over to the College of Education in Lexington, Kentucky. I was the first woman full professor in that department, and I was one of the first people who used the word "feminist."

I absolutely loved that job.

I was married for 26 years, and then I got divorced and I had to support myself. In those days, you had to retire when you were 70 from the university.

When I first stopped working, it was very scary and I would say to myself, "Who am I if I'm not a psychologist? What can I do?"

I thought, "Well, I could still be a psychologist by writing books on what I'm interested in."

And after I retired I wrote four books. It was very, very rewarding. That's how I developed my post-retirement career if you will.

I think it's important in any time in life to pursue your passions, and I also had a passion for music so I took cello lessons from somebody here in town, and I loved it.

I joined an exercise class, and I go three days a week. I take classes at Carnegie Center, which keeps my mind busy.

And I'm writing a novel, and I'm trying to get that published. So, I'm a very, very satisfied retiree.

But I did a lot of planning and put as much money as I could into TIAA so by the time I retired I had plenty of money to retire on.

I'm actually better off than when I was working. I think my psychology books are my legacy and producing three wonderful women who will go on to do important work in their lives.

I wouldn't do anything different.

[music ends]
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