Texas Heart Institute student receives prestigious Perfusion Without Borders scholarship

Texas Heart Institute (THI) School of Perfusion Technology student, Leslie Gonzalez was awarded the prestigious Perfusion Without Borders scholarship and will travel with the Novick Cardiac Alliance to Medellin, Colombia in February of 2020.

Each year, the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT) Perfusion without Borders (PWOB) subcommittee offers a scholarship to one perfusion student. After a rigorous application process, the winner can apply the award to a medical mission of their choice, with any organization serving a hospital abroad.

Leslie chose to travel with The Novick Cardiac Alliance (NCA), founded by Dr. William Novick, a pediatric cardiac surgeon and a professor of international child health. Leading medical teams to treat children with heart disease for more than 20 years; his passion for changing lives and providing hope for families inspires and motivates--including Leslie Gonzalez and her mentor Deborah Adams.

Deborah Lowery Adams, CCP, Associate Director of Academics and Clinical Coordinator of the Texas Heart Institute School of Perfusion Technology, traveled with Novick Cardiac Alliance to Peru, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran and participated in similar mission trips to Bulgaria and China with the THI's surgical fellows in past years. "Cardiac missions work is an enriching and exceptional, professional opportunity for perfusionists of all skill levels to apply their experience and refine their perspective, "according to Adams.

Leslie expects to gain perspective on global perfusion practices as a vital aspect of cardiac surgery that will prepare her for lifelong involvement in global perfusion mission work while increasing her clinical skills.

Gonzalez is a first-generation American citizen and was raised in a small, south Texas border town called Zapata, Texas, by two extremely hard-working parents who taught her compassion, respect, empathy, integrity, and above all love.

Leslie was the first in her family to graduate from college. She pursued a career in respiratory therapy and volunteered during respiratory school to work on research projects. During her practice as a respiratory therapist in the Neonatal ICU and Pediatric ICU, she had the opportunity to help teach other aspiring respiratory students. She was asked to help lecture on different topics by her alumni professors and as a clinical preceptor.

Her hard work paid off. It helped her qualify for many awards throughout her career already including a Community Service Award at the School of Allied Health Professions at The UT Health Science Center in San Antonio and Women's Faculty Leadership Award.

Interacting with others around the world provides more than a black and white perspective. As health care providers, we should strive to be able to think in a broader spectrum, and outside of the bordered box, to better learn different methods to advance our practice professionally and grow as individuals.

Leslie Gonzalez, a student at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) School of Perfusion Technology

After the trip, Leslie will present her experience at the 58th Annual AmSECT Conference, Annual NCA Meeting in St. Louis and the Annual Texas Heart Institute Perfusion Conference in June.

Leslie is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the global community, "One of the most significant accomplishments I feel I can do as a human can make a difference in someone's life and, in turn, spread the chain of compassion."

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