Honoring our 2022 Valubility of the Year nominees

Valubility of the year winners.A group of faculty, staff and students at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth were honored Friday with Valubility of the Year awards for making an extraordinary impact by living the university’s values.

“One of the main reasons I came to HSC was because of the way this campus lives out its values,” said Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, HSC’s president. “Those who were honored at the Valubility of the Year event are authentically showing up each day to live out our mission, vision and purpose, and I could not be more grateful for that.”

Each year, faculty, staff and students gather at campus watch parties to find out who was nominated by their peers for one of the awards. The program started in 2015.

“I’m honored to serve alongside such remarkable colleagues and that part of my job is to celebrate the incredible people who make up HSC,” said Jeanie Foster, HSC vice president of culture and experience. “I look forward to this event every year and the opportunity I have to thank HSC colleagues and students for the way they choose to do their work each day.”

The following are HSC’s 2022 Valubility of the Year nominees with edited excerpts from the nominators:

Dr. Diana Cervantes

Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Public Health in Epidemiology

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Cervantes’ expert knowledge in infectious disease epidemiology, outbreak response  and infection prevention and control quickly put her at the top of the list for many media interviews. Not only did she navigate numerous TV, radio and social media interviews, she provided expert mentoring to nursing home professionals through Project ECHO. Hundreds of nursing home team members from across the state joined virtual sessions anxious to hear her COVID-19 updates, ask questions and discuss their concerns.

She has shown respect to the diverse ECHO participants and provides empathy and encouragement. She demonstrates collaboration by valuing and learning from interprofessional team members. Her students have high praise for her as an educator. Her epidemiology students appreciate her ability to apply real-life experiences and cases to the material. Cervantes represents HSC and its values well to students, colleagues and the many community members she reaches, including professionals and the general public. Sharing her expertise during this critical time is one way Dr. Cervantes exemplifies the Serve Others First value.

Krista Roberts and Brenda Sihotang

College of Pharmacy

Roberts and Sihotang worked tirelessly to make the College of Pharmacy’s first Alumni Dinner a success. They led the way for the Alumni Ambassador event planning committee and helped support the group at every point in the planning process. Roberts and Sihotang lived HSC’s values by fostering Respect and Collaboration during group meetings and planning sessions. Respect was demonstrated by gathering a diverse team of pharmacy alumni and encouraging the group to share its perspectives and ideas for the event. They also communicated with the group in a timely and courteous manner, keeping the event planning on track all along the way. They were supportive of the group’s ideas and were willing to help explore and incorporate these ideas.

The pair demonstrated Collaboration by looking for opportunities to engage others and inspire the group to work more collectively rather than the sum of its individual parts. In addition to the planning meetings, Roberts and Sihotang helped physically set up the event, provided on-site support and handled all the communication efforts. The Alumni Dinner was held during the same week as several other major pharmacy events, including the Pharmacy Showcase and the College of Pharmacy Self-Study retreat. Even though Roberts and Sihotang were heavily involved in all three events, they continued to go above and beyond for the Alumni Dinner.

Haley McKeefer

Year-Three Doctor of Pharmacy Student

McKeefer has a long history of making a positive impact on those around her ever since she first stepped foot on the HSC campus. One of her most recent endeavors is the PLS LEADS program, which empowers students to tackle projects and leadership with the help and guidance of those around them and allows them the steppingstone they need to make an impact within their community. One meeting she organized taught students how to properly set up a project and create manageable goals and outcomes. For another event, she invited national leaders to speak to students interested in national positions and helped answer their questions and guide them toward finding ways to get involved.

Another PLS LEADS meeting allowed students to create and practice an elevator speech and have them put it into practice with faculty and renowned members of the pharmacy community. This practice helped them prepare for the future and to know how to present themselves in a professional manner. All these things are just the tip of the iceberg of the many projects that McKeefer has led.

The things mentioned above were all done this semester. Thanks to her initiative, many students feel empowered to take their ideas forward and are more motivated than ever to pursue higher positions of leadership and to put themselves to the test. If there is ever room for McKeefer to make an impact on the community or those around her, people can be confident that she will work to make it happen. She truly exemplifies all the HSC values by the way she treats and supports those around her.

Dr. Rachel Menegaz

Department of Physiology and Anatomy

Menegaz has gone above and beyond in helping the department and its students be successful in every way possible. She works with her students one on one on anatomy reviews and helps them prepare for exams. She has gone out of her way to be helpful and show how much she cares for her students and their success within this program.

Menegaz has shown her students that aspire to be educators what it truly means to be a teacher: It’s not just lecturing, conducting research and administrative meetings, but also also seeing the joy of a student who finally “gets it” after struggling to understand that neuro question. It’s helping that student who couldn’t locate the chorda tympani nerve in lab. It’s sitting down with a student to try and create a study plan that works best for them. It’s going above and beyond the call of a teacher and being a good person who cares for her students.

She continuously puts her students’ needs before her own, even attending a student’s Ph.D. dissertation proposal during a significant, personal life event. She goes above and beyond, seeking out opportunities for her students and communicating everything going on within the national anatomy societies and at other universities. Menegaz is truly passionate about what she does and makes sure her students know she values them and their goals.

Erin Milam

Office of the Dean, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine 

“No” is not a word in Milam’s vocabulary. Even if she doesn’t know the answer, she offers to look into the matter or help find the person who could help. Milam goes above and beyond to help anyone and everyone accomplish the tasks necessary to keep TCOM running. She covers for people when they are out or if a team is short-staffed.  She asks “What needs to get done?” and “Wow can I help?” instead of worrying about exactly whose job responsibility it is. She is the quiet foundation and backbone of the TCOM dean’s office. She provides a stable wealth of knowledge about all things TCOM and is willing to share her opinion and help everyone learn specifically about the financial aspects of her job. She is always positive with a “can-do” attitude that is so much appreciated.

When two academic coordinators in the Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics resigned and left the department without any academic administrative support, she immediately jumped in without being asked. Her ability to step in without being asked, paired with her can-do attitude, make her an incredible representation of the HSC values. TCOM is so lucky to have her.

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