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Committee on the Status of Women Honors Distinguished Women
Carmel Bitondo Dyer, M.D., is described by her nominator for the Distinguished Professional Woman Award, presented annually by the Committee on the Status of Women, as fervently passionate about the treatment of the elderly, approaching every challenge with a can-do attitude. "She's an Energizer Bunny at Mach 10," said Laura Prati, research coordinator II, in the Geriatric and Palliative Care program in the Department of Internal Medicine.
Dyer is not only the director of the recently established division of geriatric and palliative medicine at The University of Texas Medicine School at Houston, she also has established geriatric and palliative clinical and teaching programs at both Memorial Hermann Hospital and LBJ General Hospital and is chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at LBJ Hospital. Dyer is professor of Internal Medicine and holds the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Gerontology.
There is a perception, Dyer said, among some women, that women have not been taught how to work together, how to disagree with each other.
"Why should we wait for society to change when we can take things in our own hands?" she asked. "Are we mentoring other women? Are you supporting your woman boss, encouraging your woman subordinate, are you going out of your way to help women - not at the exclusion of men - but in support of each other? I wouldn't be here if women and men hadn't supported me."
She said that she is especially pleased and proud of the outstanding members of the Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Division. "Each of them came believing that we could enhance geriatric clinical and palliative services and came prepared with the skills to do it."
Mentoring Women Awards
The President's Award for Mentoring Women was awarded to a mentor from each of three categories at the UT Health Science Center.
Lavone Moore, administrative assistant II (now retired), Capital Assets Management, was nominated by Sonia Aguilar, senior support specialist, in the same department.
Aguilar said that coming to work in Capital Assets Management was a dramatic change for her. "Lavone took her time with me, taking me through the training process for my new job as well as providing training for some of her own duties. When I applied for my job, I couldn't dream of having the responsibilities I have now. Her knowledge is invaluable to me. She is coaching and preparing me for my future. I've never been more inspired."
Moore thanked the committee for making this award possible. "This is a great honor. When others feel that you should be recognized, that's what really counts."
Administrative & Professional
Margaret Carter McNeese, M.D., associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, at the Medical School was nominated by Rebecca Girardet, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics.
"I first met Margaret nine years ago at a clinic for abused children. Initially, I wasn't all that happy about being assigned to a place that on a good day could seem dreary at best.
"However, under Margaret's tutelage, I learned how to give really good comprehensive care to those children and I watched her in awe as she brought a joyful energy to any situation and infected the medical students and residents about her with her enthusiasm for medicine."
"I was stunned and humbled when I received notice of the award," McNeese said, "because it is my nominators who have been the real mentors.
"I would be remiss if I did not thank my colleagues in the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs who go above and beyond. Two other individuals I must thank are my two daughters, who have given me freedom to work odd and long hours without guilt and the ability to share with others the joy of medicine."
Luisa Franzini, Ph.D., associate professor of management, policy and community health at the School of Public Health, was nominated by Gul Nowshad, a graduate student at the school, and others.
"Dr. Franzini has the gift of being an accessible mentor," said Nowshad. "There is a common theme to each of her nomination letters. Dr. Franzini is described as humble, smart, having an open-door policy. We each have wondered, however, how it is possible that each of us being mentored by her has 100 percent access to her while at the same time, she has developed a successful career.
"She's always there to help students like me - from a developing country - to the highest level of performance. She teaches us to dream high and work hard. She has taught me how to believe in myself, remain steadfast. She is truly a role model in every aspect of life."
Mentoring, said Franzini, means doing all that she can to help her students attain success in their studies, "but it's not only that. It's a bit like being a mother. I just want what's best for them from both their and my perspective. I hope to help them achieve a balance. Mentoring sometimes is making special arrangements.
"When mentoring women, I keep in mind that sometimes women have to cut down on their professional commitments to keep family commitments, but still are able to forge rich and successful careers. The mentoring process must be nuanced for each student. As a mentor, you push, prod and advocate. You have to have your students' best interests at heart and do all that you can do for them."
By Pamela Lewis, Institutional Advancement
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