Pete’s Corner

Top surgeon’s experience at NMSU shapes her teaching and mentorship now

If you asked pediatric surgeon Rebeccah Brown at age 6 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d say “a doctor.” She could have said “a professional basketball player” or “a saxophonist in a jazz band.” After all, basketball is her first love, and she attended New Mexico State University on a music scholarship.

But growing up in her New Mexico home, Brown ’86 helped her mother care for elderly family members.

“My mom wanted to be a doctor, and she passed that desire on to me,” Brown says.

When she began applying for college, her family had limited resources. She and her mother searched for whatever scholarships and grants they could find. She received academic scholarships, grants and a music scholarship to NMSU, where she studied biology and chemistry.

Encouraged by her teacher in a basketball class her junior year, Brown tried out for the women’s basketball team. She made the team as a walk-on under head coach Patrick Knapp.

“Rebeccah gave her heart and soul to the team, and she was a phenomenal walk-on,” Knapp says. “She was an outstanding teammate, and everyone loved her.”

Brown says she developed a new respect for the student-athlete.

“I was taking about 18 hours of pre-med classes, and I was struggling to do that,” says Brown, a 1984 High Country Athletic Conference All-Academic Team Member. “Physically exhausted, you still have to come home and study every night.”

But Brown knew she was going to be a doctor and not a professional basketball player.

She didn’t play basketball her senior year and focused on academics instead. She graduated with honors from NMSU with bachelor’s degrees in both biology and chemistry and was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior. She received her doctor of medicine from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and is now a professor of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The desire to give back and provide others the opportunities she was afforded led her and her husband Dan O. Jones – also a New Mexico native – to establish an endowment in the NMSU Department of Chemistry. “

Had I not had scholarships and grants, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have,” she says. “I’m very grateful.”

Scholarships weren’t the only key to her success. Brown credits mentorship for her acceptance into medical school.

“Being the first in my family to go to college, I had no idea how to get into medical school,” she says. “One of my professors took me under his wing and guided me through the steps I needed to take. I followed his advice, nailed the interviews and was accepted into medical school.

“I now teach residents and fellows, and I mentor students who want to be doctors or surgeons,” she continues. “As I do so, I always reflect back to my own mentor at NMSU and aspire to be just like him.”

Kristie Garcia ’07

Dr. Rebeccah Brown is a professor of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Aggie alumna was also a walk-on player for the women’s basketball team during her time at NMSU.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Spring 2017