Valubility of the Month

Posted Date: November 16, 2017

The October-November recipients of Valubility of the Month bring stories of being visionary, collaborating, and serving others first.

These recipients of the Valubility of the Month honor were selected from among dozens of nominees that a UNTHSC committee reviewed.

Nominate a teammate for Valubility of the Month

Caroline Hunter

Caroline Hunter exemplifies the Value of Being Visionary. She is able to “see a need, fill a need” before most others are aware of a potential problem.

In her work as TCOM Admissions Assistant Director, she listens carefully to what is said by her co-workers and the IT professionals they work with, exemplifying the Values of Collaboration and Respect. Hunter is her department’s liaison with the IT departments at our university and at Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service, as well as local software developers. She ensures that the more than 3,500 applications from prospective students are received safely and securely.

Her nominator says, “She is ‘bilingual,’ speaking English and ‘techno-speak’ in a way that non-technology folks can clearly understand.” She uses this skill to resolve co-workers’ issues with software applications, and to coordinate repair, recovery and restoration between the IT departments.

Hunter takes the time to talk with each of her team members individually to discern problems and gather suggestions to make the work more efficient. She has been the key to unlocking the full capabilities of our software, allowing our entire team to increase productivity with markedly improved accuracy. Yet, she doesn’t boast or seek accolades for her integral role in the smooth operation of our admissions process.

Before Hunter started process improvements, entering data after the admissions committee’s meetings was extremely tedious. Each applicant had multiple scores from multiple committee members; each applicant’s identifying data had to be re-entered for each set of scores. Hunter was able to help the IT department see the issue. She then coordinated the revision of the process to eliminate repetitive actions.

Additionally, she spends the few weeks between interview cycles looking ahead at the trends affecting medical applications, anticipating potential weaknesses in an effort to form a pro-active plan for success.

Nominated by Ann Smith

Susan Zepeda-Contreras

Each day, she goes above and beyond in living the Values and especially in Serving Others First. Her job is Senior Administrative Coordinator, Grant & Contract Management; she lives the Values not only within that office, but everywhere.

Zepeda-Contreras is always willing to help, step in, and do whatever it takes to get a task accomplished. She lives the Value of Integrity and, says her nominator, “is one of the most honest, kind, giving, selfless  [people?] I know. She respects everyone she comes in contact with and always has a smile for everyone she meets.”

Susan is always willing to learn new aspects of the dynamics on her team as a means to continue to help those she works with. “I am proud to work with Susan and feel she is long overdue for campus-wide recognition,” says her nominator.

An example of her dedication to serving others first is how she interacts with patients, even though that is not in her job description. “Each and every day,” says her nominator, “we have patients coming to our office asking for help and guidance with how to find their doctor’s office” or other matters such as where park and where to go for testing.

Zepeda-Contreras takes the time to walk patients to Envision Imaging or find out where their doctor is located on campus. She calls a team member at the patient’s destination to let them know the patient is on the way.

Says her nominator, “She always gives the patients a friendly word or two to put them at ease. She does this daily and always with a smile.”

Nominated by Stephanie Jones

Jeremy Lopez

As a Receiving Clerk for Central Services, Jeremy Lopez delivers packages throughout the campus. His cart is loaded almost as high as he is tall. Even in the most unpleasant weather, he works extremely efficiently and with a smile on his face.

Recently, he provided extraordinarily caring assistance and a comforting presence when an individual fell in a parking lot where he was unloading his truck. He exemplified our Values in every way on that rainy day.

Says Lopez’s nominator, “Jeremy was carefully balancing a load on his delivery cart. We waved and said ‘hello,’ then I slipped and fell on the wet pavement. Jeremy immediately ran over to assist. He made sure I was steady as I rose to my feet. He asked if I was OK, genuine concern evident in his voice. He picked up my belongings.” He also walked her to her car to make sure she didn’t fall again.

Lopez went above and beyond in Serving Others First. He took the time to report the incident to another Facilities employee, to make sure the pavement was safe to protect all employees, students and visitors.

Says Lopez’s nominator, “When I returned from my errand, Jeremy was transferring another load to his delivery cart. As I passed by, he once again made sure I was OK. Had I needed additional help, I am certain he would have provided it.”

Lopez lives the Value of Respect, and never more so than during the fall incident. His concern was apparent, and he ran immediately to help. Yet he let the individual determine how much help she needed. This awkward situation never became uncomfortable. In fact, Jeremy was a comforting presence, and his help was greatly appreciated. Had a serious injury occurred, he clearly intended to help with whatever was needed.

Says his nominator, “When the biggest injury is a bruised ego, Jeremy represents a comforting, unassuming and helpful presence. He is a proactive collaborator of the highest order. I already had enormous respect for Jeremy just for the care he takes in doing his job and his pleasant, respectful demeanor. Now I appreciate him even more.”

Nominated by Cari Hyden

OBC Design Team

The Design Team of Junior Graphic Designer Rebekah Downing, Graphic Designer Guillermo Gomez and Assistant Design Director Marco Rosales are truly living Our Values – especially Be Visionary, Collaboration, and Serve Others First.

Recently, they served others first by using their own time, tools and talents to aid Hurricane Harvey victims.

On ordinary days, this dedicated team in the Office of Brand and Communication use their talents to create posters, flyers, magazines, brochures, advertisements and many more materials for the University’s many, departments and offices. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary effort, and that’s what these folks put forth. On their own initiative, after Harvey devastated Houston and other areas of the Gulf Coast, the Design Team went to work on a new mission.

They collaborated and created three beautiful works of poster art. Because the team has a Values-based relationship with vendors, they were able to get the posters printed free of charge. Downing, Gomez and Rosales then used their lunch hours to sell the posters. The result: Well over $800 for the Houston Food Bank to help provide food for people left in need because of flooding.

Rosales had done a similar initiative for Haiti earthquake relief when he worked at a corporation. He brought his talent and experience to his team’s project in assisting Harvey victims.

Our university is truly fortunate to have people like the members of the Design Team. They showed how visionary they are by creating a beautiful art project that is also a humanitarian project.

Nominated by Betsy Friauf

Niki Clarke

Niki Clarke, Senior Grant and Contract Analyst in Grant & Contract Management, is a model for the mindset of Serving Others First. She is always finding ways to help others out.

Says her nominator, “Recently, after a team meeting, I walked into the ladies’ room to find Niki helping a distraught mother who was taking her grandmother to the clinic down the hall. The mother was in the bathroom with her wheelchair-bound grandmother, who was clearly upset, and her fussy infant. The bathrooms in CBH aren’t built to accommodate parental needs, so she had no place to set down her infant while she helped her grandmother in the restroom.”

Clarke could see the distress on this young mother’s face and immediately offered to help. She reached out and offered to hold the infant so that the mother could help her grandmother.

Says her nominator, “The young mother broke down into tears, thanking Niki and handing her daughter over. Niki chatted up the baby while waiting for the mother.”

Once she was ready, Clarke carried the baby as she escorted the young mother down to the clinic.

It was not a lot of work, and it only took a few minutes of her time, says her nominator—“but I could tell it made all the difference in that young mother’s day. This is exactly the kind of culture UNTHSC fosters and Niki’s actions showed this young mother who we are as an institution.”

Nominated by Andrea Anderson