February 24, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I started my health care career in October 2000 at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) and made a direct state transfer to UTHealth’s Department of Human Resources as a senior recruiter in December 2002. There was a great opportunity for personal growth and a more flexible work schedule at UTHealth. At a blink of the eye, some 19+ years later, I am still here at the medical center. Prior to coming to MDACC, I was a branch manager and on-site manager for a temporary agency, where I placed temporary-to-hire employees to companies in the Greater Houston area. Type of services ranged from clerical supports to technical services at manufacturing sites to large corporations. Managing employee training to workers compensation and unemployment cases kept me busy at the branch. Transitioning to the health care industry was the best decision I’ve made.
Tell me about your work history here.
I started my UTHealth career as a senior recruiter in the Department of Human Resources (HR) and I was there for 8+ years. I worked with practically with all of the administrators and faculty throughout UTHealth at one point or another. Toward the last few years of my HR career, I was one of a few in charge of putting together a training workshop for hiring managers and end users on HR processes. I was the main contact person to keep up with all the changes and training with the online application and databases for the recruiters. I also worked in Compensation Services and one of my highlighting projects was to convert the monthly longevity payout from a manual process to an online system, which is still applicable to this day.
In September 2010, I transferred to the Department of Internal Medicine – Cardiology as a senior research coordinator to recruit patients with high risk factors for heart disease or those with known heart disease into a Century Heart Study — a heart disease prevention study under the direction of Dr. K. Lance Gould. To bring awareness to patients about living a healthier lifestyle, I made use of my marketing degree from Texas A&M University at College Station to come up with a marketing plan and advertising campaigns to enroll patients into the research study. When the study closely reached its enrollment goal and the patient interests’ declined, my position was RIF’ed. Within a few weeks, I was able to return into the UTHealth family into my current position.
In November 2016, I started a new role as a program manager with the MS – Office of Educational Programs (OEP). Out of my years here at UTHealth, I enjoy the work in my current position the most – managing the Summer Research Program (SRP). The SRP is a stipend paid 10 week (40-hour work week) summer program where college students, pre-matriculant students, first-year McGovern Medical students, and international medical students from Japan and China perform research under the direction of a mentor at UTHealth. All students attend Thursday seminars led by one of our MMS faculty and everyone received a boxed lunch on this day. The SRP has different sets of requirements for each group of students, but all starting with formal orientation and ending with a poster presentation, written abstract, and closing ceremony. Students who completed all requirements received a signed certificate at the closing ceremony. Early fall, SRP MSII students compete for the Webber Prize during Research Forum Day where participating students present their research and are judged by MMS faculty for recognition and monetary rewards. Winners received ribbons, plaques, letter from the dean, and a luncheon with their mentor and the dean in February.
This is the most challenging position, but it is also the most rewarding job. I have had to use all of my skills and resources that I’ve built in my 18+ years at UTHealth in order to accomplish my work. The best part about this job is that I continue to work with department administrators, staff, faculty, and now students at all levels. Other programs I am responsible are: International Electives 4001, where MS4 students go to Beijing, China for a month as an exchange program to learn about Eastern medicine at a medical university, the Scholarly Concentrations Program and the third-year elective.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I am most proud of the success of the summer research program I manage each summer. At one point, we had the greatest number of participants, 142, in the program. I am proud to be a representative of the OEP to colleges/universities, faculty, and students at all levels. Guiding students and helping faculty navigate through the system and match them up for the right research area is what I strive for. I love seeing students’ progress from year one to year four. MATCH DAY is as exciting for MS4 students and their families as it is to me!
How has the university changed since you first joined?
When I first joined the university, the two buildings, IMM and the one next to it, were not there. It was just a parking lot. I remembered the excitement of the grand opening of the IMM building where we had hors d’oeuvres and light refreshments. I vaguely remember the flood that flooded the medical school since my office was housed out of the Memorial Hermann Hospital. I remember how the water had destroyed the basement of the medical school and it completely covered the overpass of the light rail areas, almost overflowing the bayou behind the UCT building. School of dentistry used to be located down the street of Moursund St. It seemed like the medical school research building came up all of the sudden! The computer storage area and SBMI got moved to the roof top of the UCT building.
Why have you stayed?
I am thankful for all the hardships and life lessons in my past positions that enable me to perform my current job successfully and proficiently. A major part of this success was due to the leaderships’ trust in my ability to perform and the cooperatives among many individuals throughout McGovern Medical School and other schools. I can’t say that I love only one thing since there are so many components to this job that I have a passion for. In the OEP, we each have our own roles to maintain, but when someone needs help with a project, we all jump in and lend a hand! That was one of the things that I love about this department is the team work ethics. We do whatever necessary to help each other to get the work done.
Though out my years at UTHealth, I was always very interested in doing more than what my job entails. I was chair, of the University Classified Staff Council (UCSC) and chair, Elections Committee, UCSC and always striving to do what I can to volunteer in the community.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
Late October, we rescued a 12-week-old kitty at the animal shelter to join our pet bunny! This kitty is the light of our daily routine and has brought much joy and laughter to everyone.
When I am not spending time with my family, I love to bake and garden. I have many hobbies (crochet, water/oil painting, paper flowers, decorating, photography, singing, volunteering/catering at large non-profit events, and most recently podcast recordings) but baking has stayed with me the longest. I enjoyed baking organic desserts and create one of a kind design cakes for family and friends. My website LT’s Sweet Delights on FB and LTs.sweet.delights on Instagram contain many of my creations within the last 7 years’ work. Most recent accomplishment was my community project where I teamed up with my mom and my two daughters to sew fabric masks and provided to family, friends, and to the community. We’ve donated 500+ masks so far.