The University of Dallas Student Health Center is welcoming a new doctor.
Dr. Lora Rodriguez will become the clinic’s primary physician, replacing Dr. Laurette Dekat, who has decided to expand her teaching role at University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center as medical director and assistant professor in the department of physician assistant studies.
Dekat will remain at UD as a team physician in a part-time capacity.
Rodriguez, who attended UD as an undergraduate and graduated in 1985, initially planned to attend the University of Michigan.
She first heard about UD when the university sent her a competitive scholarship application.
“I was very smart and very cocky and felt that I could get all kinds of scholarships and this would be fun because then I would have more awards at the awards ceremony,” Rodriguez said.
After she submitted her scholarship test, UD offered her enough money in scholarships that she and her parents were interested in learning more about the university.
Rodriguez said she was pleasantly surprised to find out just how much UD had to offer after she visited campus for the first time.
Among these things was UD’s impressive record of getting students into medical schools, which, according to Rodriguez, was due to its very strong science department.
Additionally, the liberal arts focus and Rome semester were attractive to her, as they still are for many prospective students.
“I couldn’t have possibly imagined going anywhere else,” Rodriguez said of her UD experience. “It was the perfect mix of the liberal arts and science. Half my friends were liberal arts majors and half my friends were science majors, and it was wonderful.”
Rodriguez worked in a microbiology lab at UT-Southwestern for a year while establishing Texas residency after graduation. After that, she attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, which she described as a wonderful and marvelous school.
Rodriguez, who specializes in pediatrics and medicine for adolescents, knew all along what her intended career was.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a very young age, and…I knew I was going to take care of children,” Rodriguez said.
Her early confidence puzzled some. Rodriguez said that one individual discouraged her from the profession altogether, describing children as “bags of germs.”
“I learned then to change the tone, whenever somebody asked me, to say, ‘Well, I haven’t done pediatrics yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I want to do,’ when I knew in my heart there was nothing else I would ever do,” Rodriguez said.
After over 20 years of experience, she now knows her decision was a perfect one. Because the Air Force paid for three years of her medical school, Dr. Rodriguez completed residency at an Air Force base in Ohio and then worked at an Air Force clinic in North Carolina.
After starting a family, Rodriguez moved back to Michigan for a time for her husband’s work. His job did not work out, however, and he found another in Dallas about 15 years ago.
The move to Dallas allowed the family to regularly attend UD alumni events, although they were not particularly connected to the school at the time.
This changed when her oldest son began looking at colleges and ended up attending UD. Her daughter also chose to attend UD several years later.
This increasing connection to UD made the job opening in the clinic appealing to Rodriguez.
“I thought, ‘Maybe it’s my turn to [return to UD],” she said