Pivoting into a Successful Career: The Power of Connection

Embarking on the Graduate Certificate Program, Debbie Garcia was fueled by a vision for change. Although successful in the semiconductor sector, her aspirations lay in a field that resonated more deeply with her values—healthcare. With a master's degree in her portfolio, Debbie saw further education as a vital bridge to her desired career. Juggling the demands of motherhood and career transition, she recognized the need to leverage her education to forge meaningful connections within the healthcare industry. 

In her admissions interview, Debbie displayed proactive enthusiasm, a keen interest in leveraging informational interviews, and opportunities to refine her transferable skills. Dr. Jessica Walter, impressed by Debbie's initiative, promptly arranged introductions with two division alumni who then worked at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. These graduates were career changers themselves, having transitioned into roles focused on healthcare-related process improvement. This resonated deeply with Debbie's project and quality management expertise and her values.  Moreover, both alumni had previously experienced the generosity of opportunities extended by members within the division's community. 

Debbie's transition from graduate student to healthcare professional was marked by unwavering determination and fortuitous moments. Partnering with Chris Peters at the Knight Cancer Institute, she not only obtained a role as a Project Coordinator but also delved deeply into the nuances of the healthcare industry. Despite encountering a layoff, Debbie proactively sought input from her classmates to navigate the situation. Zak Coon suggested she apply for the Project Coordinator position at Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D). He recollects being impressed with “her ability to rally classmates, put structure to the conversation, and help to drive the result showed me in real-time.” What she did not realize was that he was the service line director. When she started the job, Zak reminded her: “I may have helped you get an interview, but you got yourself the job.” 

Her trajectory continued to soar—Debbie achieved her PMP credentials and embraced multiple promotions. While working as the Operations Supervisor at PS&D, a role she job-crafted during her time with the group, Chris reached out. He had recently moved to Samaritan Health and was building a new team. Remaining in contact over the years, Chris was well aware of Debbie's valuable skill set and recognized an opportunity for her to thrive and further develop in a new role. In 2023, Debbie joined the Samaritan Health team as the Business Transformation Manager. After six years, they are working together again. 

Debbie Garcia's narrative is a testament to the power of calculated risks, continuous self-improvement, and the cultivation of robust professional relationships. Her ongoing commitment to guiding current students and alumni, whether through mentorship, job placements, or sharing expertise, underscores the profound collective impact of personal growth and networking.