Childhood Mentors


Childhood Mentors



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The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Carmen Escalante, MD

—because I mention them. One was Lorena Watkins, and actually, so nice, I sent her a book, and I hadn’t talked to her probably since I left, since either college or—and she’s long since retired. And she actually wrote me a note back and called my parents, because she didn’t know where—got to get my address. And she wrote me a really nice note back.

And then my chemistry teacher was Lorraine Grabert, and it’s G-r-a-b-e-r-t, I think, the last name. And her daughter was actually in my class and we were friends, but we kind of lost touch when in college we went different ways. I sent her a book. I didn’t hear back from her. I mean, now they’re probably in their eighties. But they really were—you know, I have to thank both of them.

And then I gave a talk. I was invited to give the graduation speech at my college that’s near where I grew up, and I mentioned their names as mentors when I gave the talk. And one of Miss Watkins’ relatives was in the audience and told her, and I think she called my parents to tell me thank you and she had heard it. So it’s very nice. I mean, they were very generous with their time, and I don’t know if at the time they really knew what influence they had.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Well, I’m struck, too, that these were both women in nontraditional fields.

Carmen Escalante, MD

Yes, yes, in a small town. (laughs)

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

In a small town. So did that have an influence on you?

Carmen Escalante, MD

Definitely, and I’m very interested in women’s issues. But, yes, Miss Grabert, she told us that during the war, World War II, I think she was either maybe getting ready to go to college, but she wanted to go to medical school, but she wasn’t able to because I think they were taking men. And Mrs. Watkins, I’m not sure how—and she’s African American, Mrs. Watkins. And so I think for her to be teaching, and she was such a great teacher, probably she even faced more challenges than we ever knew about. But very professional women. For me in a small town, especially women leaders, I thought very highly of them and they were much influential on my life.

Childhood Mentors