The year 2020 brought disruption for Dr. Marivic Torregosa. But the global pandemic wasn't the only reason. A positive upheaval came in the form of her appointment as Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU).
"I never planned to be teaching as a professor. I certainly never planned to be a dean — it just happened," she said of her new role after 16 years of full-time service at TAMIU.
The unlikely journey began for Dr. Torregosa when she moved to New York City in 1994 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Bohol in her homeland, the Philippines. She found a job as a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Laredo.
"When I was six years old, I liked helping people," she said. "I liked relieving pain. If someone had a cough, I would run for medication. It was in my personality at the age. I had the inclination.
"When I was working at the hospital, a TAMIU faculty member asked if I could teach the students and do clinical rotations, so I said I would. I mentored them at the hospital and liked it," she said.
Once Dr. Torregosa graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, she seized the opportunity to become a nursing faculty member and begin a new chapter of her life. After seven years of hospital work, she was ready to pivot.
Dr. Torregosa hit the ground running in her new career and never looked back. She has taught 17 different nursing courses and graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was assisting the dean when she became tenured at TAMIU in 2019.
"The dean retired and recommended me to the president and the provost," said Dr. Torregosa.
As an academic, Dr. Torregosa has won numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year and Scholar of the Year for the College of Nursing (2015), TAMIU's Five Exceptional Women in Education (2017), Distinguished Scholar of the Year (2017-18) and Texas Academic Leadership Award (2019). She has managed over $6 million in competitive federal grant awards to TAMIU since 2018.
With one year of experience as dean under her belt, Dr. Torregosa is applying her knowledge and growing into the role as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic. She values being able to improve the college by having a say in key matters like faculty recruitment, program quality, and student admission.
"I was faculty for a long time, where you just go with the flow in whatever direction. Here, I have to steer the boat. That's a lot of responsibility," she said.
Dr. Torregosa, who was previously director of the Master of Science in Nursing programs at TAMIU, said that diversity and inclusion are critical areas of focus in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
"Here at TAMIU, if you are Caucasian, you are in the minority," she said. "Ninety percent of our student body is Hispanic. Our policies include everybody.
"When we do our scholarships, we follow the rules. Admission is anonymous. We have international students — whoever is qualified gets in."
Dr. Torregosa looks forward to helping the College of Nursing and Health Sciences grow. She's currently shepherding a pair of online degree programs — the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the new Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration.
"My vision is to continue to advance the university's mission," she said. "We want to expand enrollment in our current programs and offer more options for master's degrees in nursing, kinesiology and communication disorders."
Speaking from experience, Dr. Torregosa believes that women in leadership roles are crucial to policymaking in nursing.
"Nurses are out there in the trenches. They are knowledgeable about what is going on and how policies will impact the common person," she said.
Her inclination to help others means Dr. Torregosa is ready to face whatever challenges come her way in her role as dean of a nursing college.
Not bad for a second career.Learn more about TAMIU's online nursing programs.
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