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The Bend Magazine

HER 2019

09/30/2019 11:20AM ● By Kylie Cooper
By: Kylie Cooper || Photos by: Jason Page || Wardrobe: Alexa Gignac,  Julian Gold Corpus Christi || Hair: Meagan Mann & Riley Shaw,  The Beauty Box Styling || Makeup: Savannah Moore,  Bloom Beauty Studio

On a sweltering South Texas Thursday afternoon, nothing sounds better than an ice-cold margarita with a perfectly salted rim. I’ve just sat down with six different women, at a tan and green wooden table inside local bar The Gold Fish, to meet one another – some of us for the first time. After a brief warm-up of “usual suspect” topics, like how hot it is outside and how happy we are tomorrow is finally Friday, we dive into an open dialogue about what it means to be a woman in 2019. In a time where a record number of women are running for presidential nominations; a time where 127 women serve in Congress (which yes, is history-making), making up roughly 24% of all seats; and a time where the pop-culture queen of the moment, Ariana Grande, has proclaimed God as most certainly being a woman, it has become more clear than ever that the power a woman holds within herself is unstoppable, unbeatable, and unfathomable. 

Jordan Anderson, Rosaura Bailey, Alyssa Barrera-Mason, Cecy Trevino de Oliveira, Nikki Riojas, Dr. Jacqueline Phillips, and I have spent about three hours together, sitting around this tan and green table, now littered with a copious amount of empty cocktail glasses. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried. 

Although it can be hard to focus on the seemingly impossible triumphs for women (even in just the past year) and easy to stress the large amount of progress that undoubtedly still remains, glass ceilings around the nation, across the world, and even right here in the Coastal Bend are being shattered left and right. And as I take a moment to reflect and look around the table, I realize this is one of those triumphs. Each of these women has her own story to tell – her own path, featuring complex roads intertwining with one another, to have brought her here to this table at this moment. 

You can call it fate – the fact that we have all been brought together for this instant in time to take place – but it’s undeniably more than that. It’s taken years of hard work and determination; miracle juggling acts to make sure their families, children, personal lives, and work lives all have a place in their day; selfless moments of choosing to put everyone other than themselves first; tears and screams in the face of adversity and questions of whether or not it was all worth it. But if you ask any one of these six women if indeed it was all worth it, the answer, every single time, will be yes. 

That’s the thing about a strong-willed, resilient woman with an end goal. It’s never easy – “it” being whatever passion, objective, project, or dream she has worked so hard to fulfill – but the outcome will always outweigh the steps it took to get there. And that’s how the concept of HER was born. With women like them, women like you, in mind. When society so often would rather see you fail, you didn’t. You chose to walk the road less traveled and push through every single “no,” and for that very reason, you’ve helped craft a better world for everyone in it. The thing about these women is that they haven’t allowed the world’s perceived notions of what a woman should be or look like shape what their idea of womanhood is. When I ask each of them what it means to them to be a woman, their answers hover around a similar concept. Being a woman means taking on various roles – ones that are not necessarily exclusive, but can coexist. They have not allowed the idea that, because you are a woman, you must fit into only one box – career  woman, mother, entrepreneur, etc. – rather, they can exist as all of those things, and not only take on each of those roles, but do a damn good job. 

So, with this feature, we are honoring those who are making an impact, empowering those who are leading the way, and raising up those who continuously put others before themselves for the greater good. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in one of these six women, or be inspired by them to continue your own uphill battle. Whatever the case, let this serve as a recognition to every woman in the Coastal Bend changing the landscape and enhancing our community. You must continue, you must keep fighting, for the change we want to see in the world has only just begun.

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Jordan Anderson Industry Leader

I've known Jordan Anderson for about two years. First, I was an admirer from afar. We didn’t know each other, but I would recognize her fabulous hair and contagious smile anywhere. Over time, in major part due to our affiliation with the Art Museum of South Texas (for which she is the Board Chair), she became more than just a head of luscious blonde locks. Jordan is the kind of woman you want on your team; the kind of person you want rooting for you. She possesses a certain sense of positivity and optimism that even I, a serial and chronic optimist, aspire to obtain. 

After graduating from SMU, moving to Austin, and then realizing there was very little she could do with her Political Science degree, she decided to go to law school. It was there she met her husband. They eventually moved back to Corpus Christi and planted themselves firmly into the community. Jordan went to work for Anderson, Lehrman, Barre & Maraist, LLP and hit the ground running. 

Sometime after, Jordan and her husband had their first baby. Her job usually required long hours and a lot of travel. “It just got hard, you know? Pumping in the airport bathroom gets old after a while,” she says with a laugh. So, after about a year of working with the firm post-baby, she decided it was time to make a change. 

At the time, her dad was looking to get back into the title business. In 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, Jordan and her dad got into the real estate business and opened Bay Area Title. It seemed like an insane move, but she describes the timing as eerily perfect, and to this day, it remains one of the career moves she is most proud of. 

“I wanted to still flex this law muscle I had worked so hard on, but I also wanted to be home at 5:15 on a Wednesday night and have that be okay,” she says. Bay Area Title opened its doors just before her second baby was born; she came back to work that following year. Jordan began to take on a leadership role she had yet to really experience. “I had to hire and fire. I learned a lot and cried a lot. I thought I couldn’t do it, or that I wasn’t good enough,” she says about those early days. “But, we ended up building this incredible thing.” 

We flow into the topic of female leadership and how important it is for women to be in positions of power. She admits she was initially scared and overwhelmed. How could you not be? But the thing about Jordan is that her personality is so centered around lifting others up, she molded her version of leadership perfectly. “At the end of the day, the better you do, the better I do, and then the better we all do together. I think that is an important thing to remember when it comes to leadership.” 

I was recently lucky enough to witness Jordan in her natural form. At a ribbon cutting for Stewart Tittle Company — although Jordan’s name was on the wall behind them — the celebration was everyone’s. The women on her team gathered around one another to honor the milestone taking place. It was empowering to watch as a group of hard-working women celebrate their hard work. And, true to form, when the time came to cut the ribbon, Jordan passed the oversized scissors to the woman standing next to her.

Jordan goes on to inform me that her industry is actually predominantly made up of women. The people on the ground making money are almost all female. “Most of these women never even went to college,” she explains. “They started as a receptionist at a title company and have worked their way up. I mean, they are forces to be reckoned with, these women.” This, and the fact her current team is almost completely made up by women, gives this empowering precedent to the company that she is proud not only to be a part of, but to lead. 

Exactly a year ago, as of October 1, Bay Area Title was bought by Stewart Title Company. A move like this was unexpected. “My dad and I weren’t out for world domination,” she says. “As long as we felt good about what we were doing and continuing to give our staff opportunities, then we considered ourselves doing good.” But when a company comes and tells you they love what you’re doing, and that they want it and you to lead it, a sense of validation is provided whether you knew you needed it or not. But, she had requirements.  

During the negotiation process, she remembers being firm that the life she had created for herself here was not something she was going to give up. But they didn’t want her to; they were there because they wanted exactly what she was doing with the company. Now, Jordan is the Division President of Stewart Title, and after a long, rigorous, and sometimes challenging career journey, she feels content, with both her career and her personal life. “I feel like we just have a really good thing going. I mean, I don’t want to say we have an easy life, because life is never easy per se, but there is this element of peace we have.”

Things she has learned over the years, throughout her career and being a mother? That you don’t always have to say yes to things – if people want to remember you, they are going to remember you. You can’t always do it all, and that is just a fact, but you can curate a support system around yourself that makes it a hell of a lot easier. Being a woman in a leadership role means showing her daughter that she too can be a leader one day, in whatever capacity; and showing her son that no matter who he interacts with in this life, everyone’s voice doesn’t only matter, but is vital. And, at the end of the day, no matter what your brain tries to trick you into thinking at 3 AM, everything is going to be okay. 

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Rosaura Bailey Humanitarian

Rosaura Bailey drinks a gallon of water a day. This facet of her life might seem simple or ordinary, but it serves as a testament to who she is at her core. You see, when there is something Rosaura wants to get done, she does it. There are no excuses, and hydration is no exception. 

While she holds a rather prestigious leadership role, her presence is calming. She speaks slowly and eloquently. Getting a chance to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with her turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. Even as I sit and transcribe our interview, I find myself nodding my head up and down as if I am sitting in a church vigorously connecting with the sermon. 

After climbing her way up the professional ranks in the banking industry, her career journey presented her with an opportunity to sit on the board for the March of Dimes, which eventually led to her accepting a position with the non-profit. After a few position changes, we find Rosaura with the current title of National Director of Learning and Development with March of Dimes. I know, it’s impressive. 

When I ask her what the most fulfilling part of her job is, she responds with an answer that has more to do with a value rather than an accomplishment. “The boldness of this organization inspires me,” she says. “There are people and organizations working to make really bold and aggressive movements and address key issues in society that we desperately need to overcome. That is what I am fulfilled by, the fact that we don’t apologize for what we are doing or fear judgment from people who might not agree with what we are doing.” 

Another topic of conversation we stay on for a while during our time together is the idea that motherhood and having a career have been put into two separate boxes by society; that you can be one, but not both. 

“It’s interesting, you know, because I feel like men don’t get asked questions like this,” she says as we both laugh semi-ironically. “I don’t think you have to choose or compromise any one facet of your life just because you want to have a career or want to start a family or whatever it is you want to do. You don’t have to choose, you can just be and do.” She relates this ideology to the fact that she can play Frozen Barbies with her daughter in the playroom and also hold an important conference meeting in the board room, without having to lack in one or the other. 

Similar to her commitment to that gallon of water, she is fiercely committed to contributing as much effort as possible to creating a better tomorrow. Rosaura looks at pretty much every aspect of life – be it her career, motherhood, the boards she serves on, etc. – the same. Simply put, and in the most un-cliché way possible, she lives and breathes the concept of being the change you want to see in the world. As a Latina in a leadership position, she understands just how important it is to diversify her surroundings. She explains this in a way of really looking at diversity from the viewpoint of inclusion. 

“If you’re sitting at a table for a meeting, and everyone around that table looks the same as you, what are you taking away from that? What is anyone learning from that? It’s not necessarily just about your ethnic background, but about the entire story that makes up who you are, that is what you are bringing to the table when you have a diverse group of people.”

She goes on to describe how inclusion takes on an innately positive connotation. While having differences from others might sometimes feel negative, it’s more about looking at people’s differences as a learning experience and not an accusatory one. That’s something she holds with her when it comes to the various boards on which she has served over the past years – the American Red Cross, Metro Ministries, YWCA, and PATCH, to name a few. “It’s about being different than the person sitting next to you in order to bring an idea or perspective to the table that no other one person can have, because they aren’t you.” 

Rosaura’s everyday uniform is red lipstick, pearls, a nice blouse, and pajama bottoms. Everything for her job is done over the computer, and she is either on a conference call or leading a training for a staff of about 700 people. All day, every day. When she isn’t helping to mold the minds of those she leads, she is busy helping to implement programs and initiatives in the area to help push our community to its fullest potential. 

Corpus Christi Under 40 is one of those programs she helped put into existence – a program that has recognized hundreds of community leaders over the years since its inception. 

Career woman, incredible mother, humanitarian, loving wife, and community leader aside, I ask Rosaura what she is most proud of at the end of the day. The answer brings me to tears. “Just being okay with who I am and not letting anyone make me feel like that isn’t enough or that I need to be more or different. Yeah, that is what I am most proud of; just being who I am.” 

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Cecy Trevino de Oliveira Rising Star

The concept of empowering women is deeply rooted in Cecy Trevino de Oliveira’s DNA. The idea of lifting others up, and doing it in a way that she remains completely behind the scenes, is standard for her. When I sit with Cecy and begin to dive into the story that makes her, her, it becomes more clear than ever that creating a space for young girls to feel safe, loved, and important has always been a core value to her being. 

If you’ve heard of Chicas Rock, the local organization dedicated to building girls’ self-esteem through music creation, then you’ll better understand just how vital this idea is to Cecy. 

Even when I ask if, at the end of the day, she looks at herself and what she has done with Chicas Rock and feels proud, she is hesitant to say yes. Because, “it’s more than that,” she says. “It isn’t that I am proud of myself or not, really; but more about them making me want to be a better person every single day. The girls inspire me to make better choices or be a better me because they look up to me, and I want to live my best life for them.” 

The importance of feeling the freedom to openly express yourself has always been an impression in Cecy’s life. Most people might think of her as shy or reserved, but the stage is where she feels as though she can play and let her emotions flow out. That’s how the vehicle of music became a cornerstone in her life. She giggles as she states that Joan Jett helped to provide her dream. “To see a woman playing music the way she did, that changed everything for me. It’s hard to dream something you can’t see, right? So, when you see a woman doing this thing you think you can do, it becomes possible to you.” 

That’s how the backbone of Chicas Rock was formed. With a small idea to create a movement for girls, Cecy in turn created a voice for young girls in the Coastal Bend – a voice that many would have trouble finding without this community. The girls who make up the family created here are not only taught how to play the guitar rather impeccably, but also to truly understand that dreams are achievable no matter the fears or doubts you might have. “I think it is our job as mentors to teach that idea to the new generations,” Cecy says. We’re veering towards the end of our conversation now, and the reoccurring theme in every point we’ve hit throughout the time we have just spent together, has been the idea that we truly are better together. 

“I mean, together, we are really powerful,” she says after I ask why it is important to create spaces like Chicas Rock and why seeing strong female leadership is a crucial idea to implement in our world. “You know, women are so often taught to compete with each other, but when you start to see that switch in someone’s way of thinking, and you then are able to look at a group of women and work together, that is a really powerful feeling.” That is exactly what she wishes to teach to the girls who walk through the doors at Chicas Rock. 

It’s been about eight years since the first class was held, and though that was a different time, in a different building, both the method and the means to Chicas Rock has remained the same throughout the years. 

After our interview, I am positive that you could ask anyone who knows Cecy and they would describe her just the way I am about to: She is the embodiment of strength and the personification of the concept that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. Because that is exactly what she did and continues to do every single day. When she moved to the United States from Tamaulipas, Mexico in the early 2000s, she knew she was going to have to work twice as hard as everyone else.

“I am a Mexican girl in the United States trying to make music and not speaking the language. I am proud of breaking through all of that. Because I wasn’t just a woman but, a Mexican woman, and so I had to prove myself to other people,” she says as she remembers that pivotal turning point in her life. “And obviously things have changed a little since then and we have made so much progress, but I always want to be a part of that change and progress. I want to help open doors for everyone.”

 So, she did. And, because of that, there are countless young women who have a piece of Cecy Trevino de Oliveira in their heart and who will, time after time, think about Cecy when they think about the woman they have grown into.  

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Alyssa Barrera Mason Woman of the Year

From the moment you start a conversation with Alyssa Barrera-Mason, no matter the context, it becomes crystal clear just how much she loves Corpus Christi. She is extremely smart, generous, kind, and a self-proclaimed girly-girl through and through – never missing the opportunity to sport pink, sparkles, or some kind of animal print. 

This city means everything to her. She talks about it like a mother would talk about her child – exceptionally proud of every ounce of growth. Whether you believe in cosmic destiny or not, there is no doubt this woman was born to take on the role she has. Alyssa is a third-generation Corpus Christi native, and moving after graduating wasn’t ever something that crossed her mind. So, as opposed to leaving and taking her insanely bright mind elsewhere, she knew she had to stay in the city that had already given her so much. 

“At some point in time, I started recognizing that everything I have ever benefited from was accessible to me because someone else had done it first,” she says when I ask her to recall the starting point of her career – we’re only about a minute and 30 seconds into our interview at this point and her eyes have begun to water. “So, I was like, ‘Okay, I need to take all that I was given, maximize it, and figure out how I can do that for others in this city.’ Because, to me, that is the ultimate purpose of life: continuing that cycle.”

She tells me a story of her time spent waitressing at the Republic of Texas while still in school. Everyone she waited on would comment on Corpus being so beautiful, but that it hadn’t met its full potential yet. After graduating with her degree in Business, she decided to attend grad school, where she met one of her biggest role models and mentors – Toby Futrell. A previous City Manager of Austin, Futrell would end up being one of Alyssa’s greatest inspirations. 

It all clicked for her. Realizing she could make a career out of helping and contributing and building a community allowed her to realize exactly what she wanted to do. Alyssa went to intern for the City of Corpus Christi, working in the City Manager’s office. “I got to see this big picture of how a city worked. Every project I worked on was an opportunity to help someone else, and that was important to me,” she says. 

She went through various positions and promotions throughout her time there, which allowed her to make connections and relationships with other organizations in the city, like the Downtown Management District (DMD). When the director of the DMD decided to leave the position, he planted the idea of Alyssa applying for the job. “I just remember thinking, ‘That’s a really big job,’” she says. But she applied, and after seven years of working for the city, Alyssa became the youngest Director in the DMD’s history, at just 29 years old. 

I ask her about that phone call, the one that would go on to change her life, and she tells me she remembers being extremely excited, a little shocked, and most definitely scared. “But it was something I cared so passionately about. I knew it was where I belonged.”

She stepped into her new role and didn’t look back, not even for a second. She knew the progress that needed to be made; she understood that a city is a business and things have to make sense financially and economically; and more than anything else, she realized that being a leader means holding space for progress – being someone who believed in something – and that change would only come from that space.

One of the things I came to admire most about Alyssa through our time spent together was this philosophy that she lives and works by. This idea that because previous generations didn’t have the same opportunities she did, she must look at her purpose of using those opportunities and continuing to break barriers, for those who came before her and for those to come. “I mean, I am a 31-year-old Hispanic woman with a master’s degree, leading an organization. Really not that long ago there was a time where that was unheard of,” she says. “So now, it’s my turn to take this and make it a normal thing so that the next generation can focus on whatever new barrier needs to be broken then.”

Almost two years later is where we find ourselves today, sitting across one another eating bagels as we discuss how it feels for her to be the youngest director (it feels pretty damn good, by the way), how projects like helping to initiate the first set of small-scale incentives for downtown businesses and turning Chaparral into a two-way street are things that make her smile, and how learning the ends and outs of a city’s operation is something that truly excites her. 

What became evident to Alyssa, all those years ago with a waiting tray in one hand and a patron’s cocktail in the other, was that the condition of both downtown and our whole city is directly tied to the amount of pride people have in the community. Alyssa knew that change and progress would take place only if there was someone behind it who not only cared, but was ready to take charge. And luckily for us, she did just that.  

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Nikki Riojas Community Visionary

One could say Nikki Riojas started the most epic girl gang the Costal Bend has ever seen. She has essentially created an empire of strong women through the Women’s Entrepreneur Society of Corpus Christi (WES-CC), which has evolved into a network and resource consisting of more than 160 businesses owned by local women. 

WES-CC, at its core, was born out of the desire to create a community. The Coastal Bend isn’t Nikki’s hometown. Omaha, Nebraska is, and when she and her husband made a move to Louisiana,Nikki found herself in a new city with no familiar shoulders to lean on. It wasn’t until she found a local women’s group that she began making friends and connections. “It was hard. I had never lived anywhere else, and it is a huge transition to move to a place where you don’t have any friends or family,” she says as she begins her origin story for WES-CC – a story she has told me bits and pieces of on a few occasions, this time with a raspy tone and an almost non-existent voice. Before our interview, we had a whole conversation of how she had, of course, lost her voice today of all days.  

So when she and her husband picked up and moved to Corpus Christi, she knew what she had to do, and this time, she wasn’t going to wait. Through some Instagram research, she found a group of women who were all just virtual friends, and decided to change that. The first hangout consisted of eight women. The next one doubled, and it continued to grow every meeting after that. 

On a rather cold, extremely rainy night in December 2017, the first official WES-CC market event was held. It was their smallest event to date, consisting of 15 or so local women. “The most interesting part of the night was that women business owners would come in and ask how to join our secret girl gang,” she says with a laugh. It was then that a little light bulb atop Nikki’s head clicked on. “It became very apparent other women in this town needed a resource like this. So, I thought, ‘Let’s do it.’”

When I asked Nikki about that beginning stage, she said something along the lines of, “None of us had ever done something like this before, but we knew we could do it.” That sentence stuck with me. The fact that Nikki (along with the other board members at the time) wasn’t going to stop what she was doing simply because she’d never done it before, is a lesson we all would like to think we have learned, but don’t always implement into our lives. 

Although Nikki already owned her own local business, Thirteen & Market, and had motherhood duties for two beautiful babies to tend to, she decided to completely throw herself into WES-CC. In turn, she helped create a space for women to come and feel known. “It didn’t even matter if you came to the meetings to talk about business-related things. We were able to get together and truly just be. Turns out, that was something a lot of women were missing and really needed. And I know that if they are successful in what they are doing, and the person sitting next to them is also successful in what they are doing, it is going to elevate all of us, together. We are better together,” she says. 

You see, that’s the thing about Nikki. She won’t take this credit, but when she sees potential, it is almost as if she plants a metaphorical seed right then and there, and allows the avenues she has created to serve as the consistent water, support, and resources said seed needs in order to grow. That similar notion is what led her to create Made in Corpus Christi, a newer brand completely rooted in this community’s potential. By partnering with local creatives, Made in Corpus Christi puts out Coastal Bend branded products that the entire city goes nuts over. 

Nikki is a leader – a naturally born one at that. She is the take-charge, make it happen at all costs type of woman. Even when life throws the unthinkable at her – like when her baby girl, Alia, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of seven months, just one week out from the first ever WES-CC market event – she has faced the world with a smile on her face and a burning passion in her heart. Because, truly, at the end of the day, that’s the biggest thing that will stick with you about Nikki Riojas: She is selfless. The kind of selfless that knows a community’s potential is much bigger than herself, and creating opportunities for that potential to flow abundantly is greater than any one thing she could achieve on her own. 

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Dr. Jacqueline Phillips Medical Hero

While some might first think of her as a physician, teacher, mentor, mother, or wife, the first word that comes to mind when I think about Dr. Jacqueline Phillips is firecracker. She was the first to arrive on our 9-hour shoot day and the last to leave. The previous day, she had just been voted in as the Chief Medical Officer for the Amistad Community Health Center. 

One of the most inspiring things about Jacqueline is that she wholeheartedly has manifested her own reality. As she begins to tell me how she landed in Corpus, it becomes very clear that she is exactly where she is because it is exactly what she wanted out of her life. Corpus was on the list of places she could go for rotations after residency. She’d never heard of it before, but because she knew you could be at the beach in the winter time, she decided the Coastal Bend would be her next stop.    

“I remember driving over the bridge to The Island one day and seeing those houses, you know the ones,” she says. “And I thought to myself, ‘When you grow up, you’re going to move down here permanently, buy a house in this neighborhood, and have your career here, come hell or high water.’” She was 23 that day on the bridge, and five years later, she had gotten a job as a Hospitalist in town and bought a house in that very neighborhood. 

Throughout her time as a Hospitalist at the Corpus Christi Medical Center (CCMC), she got involved with the residency program, eventually becoming the Director of Academic Education. However, at the end of the day, she didn’t feel fulfilled with the work she was doing as a Hospitalist. “I was tired of discharging people,” she says in regard to that phase of her career. “I needed my patients to feel like they had a home to come to when they came to see me.”

After asking around, she found herself in the lobby of the Amistad Community Health Center, a place she knew nothing about. But she asked for a job and took a leap of faith in order to feel as though what she was doing made a difference. She has served as a Primary Care Physician at Amistad ever since. Working for a place like Amistad was important to Jacqueline because it allowed her to care for her patients in a way she had previously not been able to. The center is a non-profit, faith-based medical clinic that provides healthcare for the underserved of Corpus Christi. There are countless stories from patients, past and present, that all revolve around the care and love Jacqueline provided them, and how she truly saved their lives. 

However, moving from a steady income to work for a non-profit is more of a leap of faith than a career move. When I ask Jacqueline why it was so important to her to make such a bold move, she says, “I really needed to be happy. You work so hard to be a physician, and when you work that hard, you want to be happy with what you are doing. I had fun and it was exciting and I still work for CCMC, but I wanted to take things up a notch and tackle another beast.” So when she walked into the front doors at Amistad in 2015, she knew she had finally made it home. 

Since then, Jacqueline has had her hand in numerous programs and initiatives at the center. Some of the things she is most proud of include engaging her residency program at CCMC with Amistad to help teach how important it is to price medications and understanding that not everyone has the ability to purchase what medicine you might ask them to; collaborating with St. Luke’s in Houston to set up an echo program that allows the center to cure patients with Hepatitis-C (which she says is a “pretty freaking cool thing to be able to do for people”); and implementing a newer initiative that will target patients’ social determinants of health.  

We begin to talk about what it looks like to be a female physician. During her first medical school interview in 2003, she was told she would be better off as a teacher or starting a family. Turns out, she would go on to be not just a physician, but also a teacher, and also have a family. She goes on to tell me how there weren’t a lot of female physicians here when she first started and how the idea of what a female physician can achieve gets misconstrued. 

“I had a resident pay me a compliment once,” she says as she gives me an example of these misconstruitees. “The compliment was something along the lines of, ‘I feel like I can be smart, and be a doctor, but I can also dress cute and be beautiful.’ I hadn’t ever realized it before because I have always just been myself and dressed and presented myself in a way that I wanted to, but me doing that became something so important to these young women. It allowed them to know they didn’t have to be just one thing and fit into one box, they could be whoever they wanted to be.” 

Thankfully, her second medical school interview went completely differently than that first one. She was told she would be a wonderful doctor and a much-needed addition to the field, and, as they say, the rest is history. She’s never taken no as an answer. She’s worked her way through a mentality that society has tried to place on her, not just as a physician, but as a woman, that you can’t have it all. But you can and she fought for that. The outcome? A true medical hero in the form of Dr. Jacqueline Phillips. 

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HER 2019 Finalists
Ashley Arevalo  –  PERIOD Corpus Christi
Angie Baker  –  Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, Mosaic Project
Marjorie Boudreaux  –  Goodwill Industries of South Texas
Michelle Braselton  –  Braselton Homes
Aislynn Campbell  –  GROW Local South Texas
Brenda Crawley  –  Operation Homefront Scouting BSA
Brianna Salinas Davis  –  Nueces Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities
Tiara Followell  –  Roam
Michelle Fraedrick  –  Matcha Konomi, Bien Mérité
Crystal Garcia  –  Revolve One Podcast
Amber Lopez  –  City of Corpus Christi Fire Department
Sierra Lopez  –  Bay Area Hospital
Karen Nicholson  –  Hamlin Fountain, Gifts & Bakery
Elizabeth Owens  –  Fins, Tortuga Saltwater Grill, Deep Sea Headquarters, Port Aransas City Council
Brittanny Perrigue  –  Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc
Genarose Raichert  –  City of Corpus Christi Police Department
Maria Rodriguez  –  The Council on Alcohol + Drug Abuse
Michelle Smythe  –  K Space Contemporary
Natalie Trevino  –  The Roughian
Jennifer Vela  –  Texas State Aquarium