April 07, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I started working here in July of 1999. I am a native Houstonian and had previously worked with Pasadena ISD. My sister Cecilia, who is now retired from accounting at UTHealth, told me about an opening in the Office of Development and Public Affairs. I applied and got the job.
Tell me about your work history here.
I began as a senior staff assistant and moved up as coordinator for special events and senior coordinator for special events after that. Then I moved on to the School of Public Health in 2013, where I was a research coordinator. I came to the Medical School in May of 2016 as the coordinator of the Family Medicine Residency Program. I have worked in two schools now and at the university level but during my 14 years in Development and Public Affairs, I planned all kinds of university-wide, school, and presidential events. Some of the highlights were the groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and dedications of the School of Nursing, the Dental School, the Medical School Expansion, and the IMM. The big university-wide events that I was involved in included the STAR Awards, the Fun Fest, the American Heart Walk, the March of Dimes, the MS 150, and the university used to host an annual golf tournament to raise money for student scholarships – that was my baby. I was also called upon to help out at the Medical School’s 40th Anniversary Event, the Dr. Cheves Smythe Retirement, and when I was at the School of Public Health I helped with a lot of events there as well. Now in the Department of Family Medicine, I manage 36 residents for the Family Medicine Residency Program and there are still events here, too.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Looking back, I am proud to have left my mark at pretty much all of the schools through grand openings, ribbon cuttings, and groundbreakings. I have made lots of friends at all of the schools and across the university and have built volunteer teams for the events. I have a lot to be thankful for – my family, my work family, bosses, and UTHealth. Some fond memories include when former President Jim Willerson wanted the new IMM building to look special for the opening event for donors. It was an evening event and we had orange spotlights turning the whole building orange. It was a surprise for him, and he had a big smile on his face, saying he would remember that we painted that building orange for him. I was also touched when former Nursing Dean Patricia Starck first saw my calligraphy and asked me to address her Partner event invitations – every year. And I won’t forget how Dean John Valenza told me how he wanted the Dental School opening to be the best and when it was completed that I had done my job well. And there is still work to be done, just the other week, our chair Dr. Carlos Moreno gave me two tasks to complete, and hopefully I can accomplish those for him.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
I must say the new schools, nursing, dental, with all of the schools have really made the university much bigger and better, and I think everyone see us out there. I remember when they changed the name of the street in front of UCT from Galen to Pressler, and we thought it would be hard to remember. Now it’s hard to remember it used to be Galen. We can officially say UTHealth now instead of the whole university name, and that really puts us on the map.
Why have you stayed?
First of all, I love my work, my friends, the bosses have really supported me in what I have done for the university. I still communicate with my friends throughout UTHealth even though we are in different buildings. I have made this my second home. In fact, it’s literally family – my other sister, Cindy Perez, works in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
I spend time with my husband, Rick, and my son, Jimmy. During this pandemic, barbecuing outside has been our number one thing now. We stay home. I like to cook, I love to bake, and I also like to clean – most people don’t like to clean, but I do. I like to relax by listening to music, crafting, drawing, and if I want to do more, I team up with my husband and do yardwork. When we are not doing yardwork, we cheer on our Texas sports teams – from collegiate to pro. I’m a big sports fanatic! Before COVID, we did a lot of family gatherings on the weekends – we played games, cooked, and listened to music. And with all of my busyness, I also serve as president for the HOA of my subdivision.