April 21, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I came to UTHealth in September of 1981. I had just graduated from Texas State Technical College with an associate’s degree of applied science in veterinary technology. Veterinary technicians weren’t licensed back then, but when licensing was established I was grandfathered in. I worked in a veterinary clinic during my last year in college for a required internship for three months. My experience there led me to believe that my professional growth would not be fostered there, so I began to look elsewhere to hone my technical skills and knowledge. I didn’t consider working in a research environment, but when I got a phone call from the veterinarian Dr. Chris Smith, I knew this was where I wanted to be. It was the right decision as I learned so much from the mentoring from this incredible lady that took me on the path to where I am today.
Tell me about your work history here.
I started as an entry level veterinary technician in veterinary resource surgery, which was back then was in the Department of Comparative Medicine. This department is now known as the Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care. There were only three veterinary technicians at the time, one of which was the supervisor. Within three years the other two individuals left, and Dr. Smith promoted me to the supervisor position. The veterinary resource area grew exponentially from that point, and I eventually became a manager of a team of six technicians. During my tenure I have held other positions in the department, each one taking me to a greater level of responsibility. My current position as an assistant director is primarily managing the financial aspect of the department and financial office staff. I also manage two other teams and have oversight of our training coordinator.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Tropical Storm Allison devastated the research program at UTHealth. Our department at the time was located in the basement of the Medical School, and it was a complete loss. We had no facility, no offices, or computers. It was a difficult time, but our department, Environmental Health and Safety, and the research staff community rallied together and within a little over a year we were back to where we had been prior to the flood. It was several years before the Medical School Expansion building was built and we had a complete facility again, but we made it work! I am proud to have been a part of this incredible team.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
The University has expanded in many ways over the years. When I first started, there was only the Medical School, John Freeman, the old Dental School, School of Public Health, and the old MSI building. Technology, the computer advancement from DOS and TUFIMS to Windows and PeopleSoft. Research and medical advances – I am grateful to have been a part of the research that has been done here that has led to medical advances that have helped both people and pets.
Why have you stayed?
The opportunities that I have had to grow professionally and those individuals who helped open the doors to get me where I am today. The community spirit, especially in our department. As others have mentioned before me, we are a big family.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
Anything that involves nature is my passion. I love gardening and my garden is my escape after a busy day and a place to relax. I have three cats that I adore. I enjoy camping and hiking and will go to a state or national park when I have a chance. I take my digital camera along and enjoy photography. When I am not doing any of those things, you will find my nose in a book. Last, but not least, cooking! I enjoy trying and creating new recipes of various cuisines.