Piano has always played a key role in Genaida Benson’s life, along with family, faith and now Mayo Clinic where she is a nurse. Today, Genaida is often seen and heard playing in the Gonda atrium or in the Saint Marys Hospital main entry.
“Last December,” she noted, “I gave a Christmas concert for the Sisters of St. Marys. And I have also performed for the Wear Red event in February on both campuses.”
Benson became a nurse and joined Mayo after seeing her father receive life-saving care for stage four liver cancer at the clinic. Both were living in Michigan at the time and she made many journeys here with him. At the time, Benson was pursuing a career as a concert pianist with degrees in performance and also pedagogy and teaching. Her passion for the piano began with lessons from her parents at age 4 and had taken her to concert stages around the country, to South America and Europe.
When visiting here with her father, Benson said, she saw the connection between music and medicine as healing powers. She said they often listened to Rochesterites and physicians playing in the Gonda atrium.
“Medicine and music go hand in hand,” she said, adding that she is always guided by her faith when playing for patients, especially whether they request hymns or listen to other selections.
What characteristics do you hope people see in your style, whether from your Mayo wear or otherwise?
Passion, compassion, care, an attention to detail, focus, warmth and friendliness. I am proud to wear my nurses uniform because it is a sign of both degrees being used to help others.
May we have a little more insight?
Depending on which department you work in at Mayo, nursing attire changes in color. Regardless of where I am, the uniform is practical and comfortable so the emphasis is placed on the needs of the patient. As a general rule, I dress conservatively and comfortably with clothes that are economical to purchase.
Before your Mayo attire, what did you wear to play for audiences?
For each recital, it was fun to go and pick out a formal dress – one that was sparkly but conservative. I’m attracted to sparkle. Before I became a nurse, I also wore fancy, sparkly shoes to match my outfit.
What does your footwear look like today in terms of compatibility with nursing and also the pedals of a piano?
Comfortable shoes like Hokas are super important when being on your feet all day. Even now with a broken leg, it’s super important to have good support.
That begs the question, how has your style changed since you injured your leg?
So far, I have had only one cast, but I’m only about four weeks out from surgery. The color is pink and sparkly. And I dress to match the color of my cast. I wear comfortable things that can be slipped over my cast and that are very stretchy. I have to use a ‘reacher’ to help me dress.
Other than your crutches these days, do you have a favorite accessory of two?
A sparkly hair pin, a sparkly music pin on my dress or shirt, a sparkly scarf.
What should every well-dressed woman have in her wardrobe?
Something to wear that makes her sparkle from the inside. No matter what the outside appearance, if her inner beauty is glowing, that’s what counts.
Anything about your style people would find surprising?
Even though I like sparkly, I don’t wear jewelry.
Do you buy locally?
I don’t shop much. And especially since the pandemic, I’ve mostly shopped on Amazon. But when I do shop, I pretty much shop at all of Rochester’s retail stores. I love to window shop. I like to window shop before I settle for a purchase. And I like to explore new stores.
As our warmer weather fades, what are you looking at wardrobe wise?
I always dress for the weather. Lots of layers when it’s cold. I try to make sure the outer layer of a coat has a water resistant shell.
Is there something “Minnesota” about your style now?
I hope that it reflects ‘Minnesota Nice!’ My goal is to uphold ‘Minnesota Nice’ and to be an upstanding citizen in everything I do.
Choose conservative styles that are affordable and modest. Practicality instead of the latest trends and styles. Let your happiness come from an intrinsic joy. This type of joy will make you sparkle regardless of what you wear.
Do you know someone who has unique style? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Your Style" in the subject line.