|When did you join UTHealth Houston?
I joined UTHealth Houston in 2005 as a direct transfer from UT Austin.
What brought you here?
Initially, my intention was to study law. I have always had a passion for the courtroom, legal system, and political science. I was bound and determined to do my undergrad at UT and then off to law school. Growing up, most children play school or restaurant, but my idea of fun was acting out a trial. Being the oldest among my cousins and friends, I was always very persistent that we play court. We improvised with props, using a meat mallet for the judge’s gavel, one of my grandfather’s old briefcases, and a pair of glasses with no lenses. I had to make sure everyone acted their part, prosecutor, plaintiff, defendant, and as always, I was the defense attorney. In college, all that changed as I shifted my interest to a bachelor’s of business administration in finance. After graduating from college, I was working as an office manager for a small architect firm assisting with accounts receivable, payable, payroll, state bids, reporting, etc. One of the partners of the firm was an adjunct professor. He asked me to assist him with preparing and submitting a proposal application to the U.S Housing and Urban Development Department. We completed the application and submitted it to the administrative office at the university. Shortly after, they called to ask who provided assistance to him. They asked if he thought I would be interested in a position with their department. They offered me a chance to interview for a position in the Grants Department, and the rest was history. I started in pre-award and eventually moved to post-award management.
Tell me about your work history here.
As a direct transfer from UT Austin, I started at UTHealth Houston at the School of Public Health and eventually transferred to the Post-Award Finance Team. I had the privilege of working with Ronnie Perez and Victoria Briscoe and learned a lot about our financial management system, research administration, and the infrastructure of our institution. After being with PAF for a few years, I took a brief detour in my career and left the institution for three years to join JP Morgan Chase as a corporate accountant. It was an unexpected offer, but one that intrigued me. It was an opportunity to see the other side of business world. The shift from non-profit to for-profit was definitely an eye-opener. Work-life balance was almost impossible as a mother of three, managing between business trips, client meetings, and parent-teacher conferences. It wasn’t long before I decided to find my way back to UTHealth Houston. I applied, interviewed, and accepted a position with the Department of Pediatrics, where I fell in love with my work. As a work family, we were dedicated to the missions of the institution. At the time, Dr. Colasurdo, our chair and fearless leader, always challenged us to be the best. His extreme power to negotiate, strategically plan, and forecast perfectly was always so impressive. I still remember the pie chart I created to show the distribution of revenue in pediatrics among the divisions, which we use to this day for our three-page budget file! During my time in Pedi, it was an honor and privilege to learn from one of the legends of our institution, Mr. Jorge Zambra. I still hear his words resonating with me, “Piano, piano si va lontano!” He always helped me slow down, understand purpose, and really take a deep dive to appreciate how things worked together for the greater good. “Words are powerful,” he would say. He helped define things so clearly and effortlessly. Simple things that others seemed to overlook, for example the difference between credentialing and privileges. Even to this day, I still remember things he said and did that had an impact on who I am today. In addition, Anthony Garcia was also an inspiration to me during my time in Pediatrics. His heart of steward and passion for the department were priceless. The faculty, staff, and administration in the department will always hold a special place in my heart. After an amazing decade in Pediatrics, I decided to pursue another adventure. Through the provision and support from Julie Page, I decided to apply for a position as the DMO of Psychiatry. Julie has always been my champion. She has always been an incredible liaison and the strongest advocate for department administrators. She encourages us to be the best possible managers we can be, she tells us “Own your department, tell the story.” With a heavy heart to depart from Pediatrics, I accepted the position in Psychiatry. Without knowing where the journey ahead would take me, I was ready for the challenge. After my first month in the department on my long commute home, I reflected on the day I had. Who would have known that this is exactly where I was meant to be… you see psychiatry brought all it all together for me. I was in a position that allowed me to utilize my skill set in finance, manage our vigorous grants and contracts, pursue my passion for political science, continue with my desire to connect patients to care, which allowed me the opportunity to work here at UTHealth Houston to be a part of our mission for education, research, and patient care.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Being part of something that touches lives daily, whether it is connecting patients to care, or having the opportunity to mentor staff. UTHealth Houston is a special place, where extraordinary events happen each and every day. It is an honor to be here and to serve.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Why have you stayed?
I love my position at UTHealth Houston and what we truly stand for. There is nowhere else I would rather be.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy spending precious and priceless time with my husband and our amazing children! I look forward to our weekends as we continue to grow and love together, giving thanks and praise for all the blessings in life! I love to run, bike ride, and enjoy being outdoors. I truly love to spend time with the creation of life. To see the trees blowing in the wind, hear the birds chirping, and feel the very presence of all living things around us. I have a garden and tons of plants! I love to rescue plants on clearance at Home Depot and HEB! I bring them home to my plant intensive care unit where I show them love, watch them grow and recover, and often find permanent placement for them with family and friends.