VA » Health Care » Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas » Features » International Women’s Day 2019
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
International Women’s Day 2019
By Todd Goodman
Tuesday, March 12, 2019International Women’s Day 2019 celebrated women and the multiple hats they wear with a program in the auditorium of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.
Balance for Better was the program’s theme, and a common thread throughout the event was to lighten up, focus on what is important, and don’t be afraid to be the first to accomplish something.
“Make a priority of yourself,” said ReShonda Tate Billingsley, an author who has written more than 40 books. “Give yourself a pass if you can’t do it all right away. Balancing for better is the best that you can do.”
The five-woman panel—which consisted of two sitting judges—kept the audience engaged throughout with witty comments, personal stories, and uplifting messages of how they got to where they are today.
“Even as a judge I have a mentor,” said Honorable Ronnisha Bowman, Harris County criminal court judge. “In a field dominated by men, you must have confidence. I went to law school. I am competent. I bring experiences to the table. I am okay.”
One of the points made during the presentation was that the rise of women doesn’t equal the fall of men.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” said Honorable Toni Wallace, Fort Bend County Court judge. “If a man is threatened by my success, I am lifting you with me. Who can I help? Who can I serve? Having a seat at the table by yourself means that no one else is eating.”
“Celebrate your diversity,” said Kelly Irving, associate director for Patient Care Services at the Houston VA Medical Center. “We have a seat at the table. Don’t let your professional development rely on the opinions of others. Stay firm in who you are.”
Dr. Tonya Jordan remained firm in who she is, knowing that it would take persistence to make a difference. She tried several times to get a job as a dentist with the Houston VA Medical Center. She realized that perhaps she needed more experience, so she began volunteering at the VA, serving the dental needs of the homeless population. Soon after, she was hired.
“I was the first female and first African American hired as a dentist here at the Michael E. Debakey Medical Center,” said Jordan.
Wallace urged women in attendance to be the solution and to think outside of the box.
“Don’t be afraid to be that person,” she said. “Because someone is looking at you and seeing that if you can do it, she can do it.”