December 16, 2020
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
While working at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Dr. Robert Yetman invited me to come over and meet with Student Health Services at the Medical School. I was not aware of an available position with them until I stopped by and surprisingly discovered the position and that I was being considered for it. I have always had an interest in research medicine and was excited for the opportunity to work with medical students in a clinic setting. Since joining the UTHealth Student Health Services team in 1997, our facility has expanded to serve all six schools of UTHealth, and I find it rewarding to work with young adults as they build their careers and fulfill their dreams in health care.
Tell me about your work history here.
I have been with Student Health Services since joining UTHealth. However, I have seen many moves and developments over the years. Before Tropical Storm Allison inundated Houston in 2001, our clinic was housed in the ground floor of the Medical School. It was a pleasure being so very close to the students as they would pop in to say hello. The student mailboxes were next door to the clinic. There was never a dull moment!
Following the storm, the John Freeman Building was demolished, and the Medical School expanded and was renamed. Student Health Services initially moved to the Children’s Assessment Center before moving to the UT Professional Building (UTPB) several months later. We have made several moves within UTPB over the past 18 years and are now housed in Suite 130 of the building, which is a big advantage for our students thanks to the central location.
I feel honored to have had many opportunities to work and collaborate with wonderful people while at Student Health Services, such as having had the opportunity to worked under the leadership of four directors. One cornerstone of student health is being available to students on a day-to-day operation regardless of the hour. We man the exposure hotline for students after clinic hours, which now includes COVID exposures. I’ve assisted with orchestrating reach-out events for all campus regarding wellness and mental health.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
There are many initiatives that I am proud of having been a part of while at UTHealth. However, one of my greatest accomplishments is being able to help maintain the health and mental well-being of our students at all six UTHealth schools. I feel proud to have helped establish the Student Counseling Services side of the clinic and have the opportunity to see students improve their mental and emotional health thanks to the services we are now able to provide them. It feels very rewarding to see them excel, graduate, and move on in their careers and lives. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel proud to be able to help provide frontline care and testing for our students.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
UTHealth has grown tremendously over the past two decades! I have had an opportunity to see buildings go up and down, schools be rebranded, and UT Physicians expand across Houston to better serve our community. And in my own clinic, I am so proud to have been part of the clinic expanding to include counseling services in the early 2000s and a few years later to also include psychiatric care so that we could provide more holistic care to our students. I am also very proud to have taken care of many students who are now in positions of private practice, faculty, and executive vice president!
Additionally, UTHealth and the TMC have grown so much over the years and are world-renowned, and it feels very special to never be far from home when traveling abroad and meeting people who know about our amazing clinical and educational services. I get really excited to be able to share that I work in the medical center with UTHealth.
Why have you stayed?
I have stayed as I love my job because we all have the same vision as a family, and we are all truly dedicated to the same mission. I appreciate the multidisciplinary collaboration. It is rewarding to play a role in our students building their careers and achieving their dreams. Additionally, it means a lot to me to be part of an organization that cares for and values their employees and students. During tough times, the UTHealth family is there for one another. I recall during Hurricane Harvey and the challenging weeks and months to follow, how honored I was to be part of an institution that served not only the Houston community but also all of its students and employees during those tough times.
Also, I have a voice. Someone listens to me! My bosses listen to my thoughts and ideas. The team collaborates and makes things happen. And, who couldn’t work with the amazing Dr. Margaret McNeese and fabulous Dr. LaTanya Love. They extend their great support, pour into your professional growth, and bring about new exciting challenges that keep the clinic motivated.
Additionally, I love people, and I love helping people! Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things! I’m here to serve! It is so rewarding to see sadness changed to happiness or a frown to a big smile. I’m elated when this transformation is produced. And I consider my job is the perfect job!!
Words can’t express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Margaret McNeese, Dr. LaTanya Love, Charles Figari, and Dr. Natalia Sanchez for their remarkable and outstanding dedication that they devote to the Student Health staff and UTHealth. Thank you to the Student Health and Counseling Service team for a true genuine spirit of caring, compassion, and healing along with your hard work! You all definitely portray the greatest attributes for high-quality patient care, which makes the job easier.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
When not at work, I enjoy watching football, traveling, planning events, singing in my church choir, visiting my grandbabies in Florida, relaxing on my back patio with family and friends, and exploring all the wonderful restaurants options that Houston has to offer and savoring their delights!