Gentle Strength
TAGS: Faculty & StaffStudent Story

Some people can make you feel better just being around them. Fortunately for the AIC community, someone with that very gift works for the campus’s Dexter Health Services. Her name, Mildred, literally means “gentle strength,” and that quality perfectly describes what Milly Velazquez brings to her work as the clinic’s office manager and medical assistant.

Vivacious and energetic with a warm, welcoming smile, it’s easy to see how Velazquez could be a sight for sore eyes…or a sore throat or sore back. “I enjoy everything about my job,” she said, “but my favorite part is patient care. It starts the minute those doors open at 8:30 a.m. I know many of the people coming in don’t feel well and I want to make them feel comfortable. I want to reassure them and let them know we will take care of them.”

Velazquez came to AIC in 2013 with several years of experience in urogynecology, internal medicine, and urgent care. “The provider I was working for was relocating, so I was looking for another position. When I heard about the opening at AIC, I looked at the job description, the responsibilities, and requirements, and I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Velazquez also knew she could bring more than just professional experience to AIC. “Being a person who treats everyone with the love and care they deserve was something I felt college students would appreciate, especially with many of them being away from home. Providing patients with genuine care and understanding was one of the many things I knew would be important at AIC.”

One of the reasons Velazquez is so attuned and attentive to the needs of the student population is that she is the mother of a 17-year-old, soon-to-be college student, Isaiah Morales. When she speaks about him, it’s clear her son is the light of her life. A straight-A student and three-star athlete in cross county, basketball, and track, Isaiah is as high-energy as his mom, and Velazquez describes the bond they share as “amazing.”

Photo Credit: Leon Nguyen ’16

“We talk about everything, and we’re very open with each other. As a single parent, I have to play both mom and dad, so I give him lots of love and also put my foot down when necessary. I am very grateful for the relationship we have.”

Another reason Velazquez can relate so well to the students she serves is that she is one of them. As a liberal studies major, Velazquez works full-time days at the clinic and takes classes in the evenings. “Having the opportunity to work for AIC was a wish come true,” she said. “But knowing that I was able to further my education at AIC was a blessing. As a single parent, I have always believed in leadership by example, and AIC is helping me grow personally as well as professionally.

“I enjoy having the ability to be on both sides of the fence. Working in health services during the day allows me to provide comfort and care to the students, while attending classes in the evenings allows me to be a part of the AIC community and bond with the students that way.”

As a working professional with a busy home life, Velazquez has to juggle multiple demands on her time, but she takes the inevitable challenges in stride. “Balancing can sometimes be difficult and I can overfill my plate, but I have a lot of energy to burn and I just run with it. I am so determined to grow.

“I don’t even have a favorite subject yet. Because I’m an older student, I enjoy all the classes—it’s like starting all over again! And I’m grateful to have such great professors who are willing to take a few extra minutes of their time to explain something to me, without hesitation.”

“You will have days when you want to quit, when you want to cry, but if you’re working hard, you have to have determination.”

Though Velazquez has worked for years in the medical field, she is also a trained tax preparer and has been known to work seven days a week with a second job during tax season. But her greatest passion is travel and her ultimate dream is to become a flight attendant. “When I had my son, he was my priority and I had to make decisions that were best for him. But ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a flight attendant. I love to travel, see new places and meet new people. I’m a people person, that’s just who I am. It’s why I love working with patients.”

Velazquez also loves the outdoors, biking, hiking, and kayaking, and recently conquered the White Mountains in New Hampshire with her unsuspecting boyfriend. “I love to hike, but he had never been before and this was a 5,000-foot hike to the top. It took us three hours up and three hours down. We were sore for two days!”

Single parenting, grueling schedules, new adventures—none of it discourages her. In fact, for Velazquez, it’s more like rocket fuel propelling her forward. “Looking at my son, motivating him, having him watching me—as parents, we teach our kids it can be done. You will have days when you want to quit, when you want to cry, but if you’re working hard, you have to have determination.
“Having my son know everything I go through and still see me get up with a smile, that’s worth everything. I don’t care if it takes me 15 years to reach my goals. I’m going to show my son it can be done, so one day he can say, ‘my mom did it.’”

 

-By Ellen Dooley

Featured Photo Credit: Leon Nguyen ’16