By Kate Hunger
Kevin J. Washington enjoys a good mystery—particularly the kind best solved peering through a microscope.
“I prefer looking at the smaller spaces,” the graduate medical laboratory sciences student said. “Less big, more micro.”
Washington was one of five speakers scheduled to speak March 30 at UT Health San Antonio Voices, an interprofessional networking and social mixer organized by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The School of Health Professions, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Dentistry and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences each had a student speaker share his or her own inspirational story at the event.
Washington grew up in Hawaii. He moved to San Antonio for his senior year of high school after his mother retired from the U.S. Air Force. He initially majored in electrical engineering but took a break from college and held a range of jobs. He went back to school, where he discovered a passion for the laboratory and microbiology. He has worked his way through college, taking jobs as a truck driver, bouncer and bank investigator. He currently works full-time as an IT help desk technician at Texas A&M San Antonio while completing his master’s degree.
A research career in a field unrelated to the health professions might have been in Washington’s future if not for the experience of observing how his late father’s illness was treated. The confusion and uncertainty he and his family felt during that period kindled his interest in clinical laboratory science.
“He retired and less than a year later he had passed away,” Washington said of his father’s death in 2011. “He was in and out of hospitals and no one could give us a clear definitive answer of what was wrong and how to treat it.”
Washington plans to work in a rural or underserved area and hopes to be able to provide the explanations his family needed but never received.
“When the families are suffering they don’t care about the type of tests that are being run,” he said. “They want someone to help them ease their burden.”
Washington prepared his talk for Voices with the firm belief that fostering connections among all health professions is the best way to do right by patients. Understanding the contributions of all fields is indispensable, he said.
“The patient has a connection to everyone,” he said. “Some of us will undoubtedly run into each other again. We may work in the same hospitals. We may forge relationships where we can refer to somebody for advice or explanation.”