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    Tropic Care Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Maricela Soberanes

    Tropic Care Maui County 2018

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Mckenzie Airhart | U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Maricela Soberanes, assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Hans Zeiger 

    194th Wing

    PUUNENE, Hawaii—U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Maricela Soberanes has always been goal-oriented. Today she is the commander of Expeditionary Medical Facility Dallas’s Detachment Q, and she balances her military service with a civilian career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. After she was named as the assistant officer in charge of the Tropic Care Maui County 2018 Innovative Readiness Training mission to provide medical, dental, and vision services to people in Maui, Molokai, and Lanai in August 2018, she wrote the IRT mission on a mirror in her home and committed herself to it. “I write down my goals,” she said.

    People who know Soberanes testify to her propensity to achieve. “She’s a very hard worker, and she’s strong-minded,” said U.S. Navy Reserve Senior Chief Petty Officer Simon Hernandez of EMF Dallas, the non-commissioned officer in charge for the Tropic Care mission. “When she sets herself to doing something, it is going to be completed.”

    Soberanes’s commitment to achieving goals started when she was a young girl in Mexico. Soberanes was born in San Luis Portocilla, Mexico and raised in Mexico City.

    “I came from a large family – there were nine of us,” she said. “At any given time, you were praying you’d have a meal on the table. In Mexico, you have to pay for high school. We didn’t have money to pay for school, so when I finished middle school, that was the end. Generations go in that circle. When mom told me I couldn’t go to high school, that was a very devastating thing to me to learn. I knew she wanted me to go, but she couldn’t afford it.”

    Soberanes had a choice to make. “She said if you want to you can move to your aunt’s,” she recalled. “That meant that I had to be separated from my family, a 12 hour drive. I was 11 and a half. To me it was a no-brainer: I knew that I needed to go….I went to my aunt. I was a stranger to them, but they welcomed me. After that, I got a job. I babysat for a family, and they helped me to pay for school. I would get off school and cleaned somebody’s dishes so I could get food.”

    Soberanes worked her way through a community college on a discounted payment program, earning an associate’s degree in business. Five years later she was determined to continue her education. She came to America to learn English and study nursing at Austin Community College in Texas. It would take time for the college to validate Soberanes’s high school diploma from Mexico, and she wanted get started, so she took the GED.

    Soberanes first considered military service as a way to fund her college studies. “When I came to the states, I had $100 in savings and needed to pay for school,” she said. She was put on a waiting list for the Army nursing program, but she ultimately found other ways to pay her way through college. “Cleaning tables, cleaning offices, clean, clean, clean,” she said.

    Then she found work as a medication aide at the Austin Supported Living Center in Texas, providing medications to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in a hospital setting for four years.

    After earning her BS in nursing, Soberanes began work at an intensive care unit. Soon she took the next step in her career by working on her bachelor of science in nursing through Texas Technical University. After graduating with her BSN, she began work on her master’s in anesthesia. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee and then her doctorate from the Baylor University College of Medicine.

    In 2007, while living in Memphis and studying for her pharmacology test, Soberanes decided to take on one more credential: American citizenship.

    Soberanes joined the Navy Reserve in 2013. She has held a variety of leadership posts within EMS Dallas. The highlight of her career so far has been serving as an individual augmentee for EMF Djibouti at Camp Lemmonier in 2017, where she was the sole anesthesia provider for several thousand service members, civilians, and diplomats.

    Soberanes values the opportunity she has to build long term relationships with Navy members. “In my day to day job, my interaction with my patients is from the time I meet them,” she said. “They trust me with their lives. My commitment is until shortly after surgery is over. The interaction we have is short-term. In the military I get to build those long term connections. I get to know about their family members….I get a chance to impact people’s lives. Sometimes the same person you meet you will then see later on. There’s a continuity of interaction. I have met all kinds of great people that I’d probably never have the chance to interact with and meet. They are selfless and high achievers. Everyone has a different story. Most of us want to do better. That is contagious to me.”

    Leadership in the Navy Reserve has taught Soberanes to be mission-minded, she said. “You have to stay mindful of the mission,” she said.
    As detachment officer in charge, Soberanes does a lot of work during the month so she can come in to drill weekends focused on service members who she sees as patients, as well as the 70 people in her medical detachment.

    Soberanes said that the most rewarding part of her job at Detachment Q is being able to advocate for service members. She finds joy in being able to help young sailors to move past challenges in their lives and “to give them hope” for their futures.

    When it comes to her role as Tropic Care Maui County 2018 assistant officer in charge, helping to lead around 350 service members who are taking part in the mission, Soberanes said that she appreciates the hands-on training that the IRT program makes possible. “In patient care, that’s like icing on the cake,” she said. “We’ve prepped, we’ve trained, we’ve planned, but when you actually put the hands on the patient, that’s the icing on the cake – doing the actual patient care.” Soberanes said that she is glad to play a role in “organizing this so that people have this chance to do the patient care.”

    Soberanes “is a dedicated, professional officer whose dedication, strong work ethic, and attention to detail has been an asset to the mission,” said Lt. Col. James Jones, the officer in charge for the Tropic Care Maui County IRT. “She is a hard worker who puts the needs of others ahead of her own, ensuring the success of the mission. I would welcome her on my team for any deployment.”

    When she’s not working in her Navy Reserve job or her independent anesthesia business, Soberanes is active in volunteer work and fitness activities. She has volunteered with a group that provides surgery to correct and treat cleft palate in Guatemala. She also participates in marathons and triathlons. She led fitness classes and organized and took part in a relay team when she was at Camp Lemmonier.



    Date Taken: 08.19.2018
    Date Posted: 08.19.2018 17:29
    Story ID: 289396
    Location: PUUNENE, HI, US

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