By Nikki Ross Inda
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we value diversity, inclusion and the individuality of our team members. Our staff contributes to the uniqueness of the cancer center, making Moffitt a top 100 Best Place to Work employer. As we conclude Hispanic Heritage Month, we are proud to spotlight Stefany Martinez, a medical assistant celebrating 10 years of service in the Bone Marrow Transplant department.
Where were you born?
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. My brothers Alberto, David and I were raised by my mother Teresa in a single parent home. I am the oldest and the only girl. I was 21-years-old when my mother and David left for America to join my aging father. As a young girl, I struggled to provide for myself and my brother. We lived in an undesirable section of Colombia and avoiding danger on the streets was a daily part of our lives.
When did you immigrate to the United States?
In 2003, four years after my mother moved to the United States, my parents sent for me. My brother Alberto stayed in Colombia where he still lives. I’ve lived in the U.S. for 17 years and became an American citizen in 2014. This country has offered me an amazing new life. I am accomplishing dreams I would likely never have been able to accomplish in my native Colombia.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Colombians enjoy parties, music, dancing and spending time with our loved ones. I love to cook “asado” which is a South American technique for grilling food. I make up my own recipes and try to use traditional Colombian ingredients. My favorite childhood delicacy is called “cosido.” It’s a hearty stew typical of the region. You can’t enjoy good food without music. I play the saxophone in two community bands and I love Zumba. We keep the music alive in our house!
What should people to know about Colombia?
Colombia has a beautiful tropical climate since it’s located on the equator. The magnificent Andes Mountains feature towering waterfalls, while the Amazon Rainforest provides stunning landscapes. Colombia is known for producing rich coffee, brilliant flowers, emeralds and coal. The official language is Spanish, though there are numerous indigenous dialects spoken in the region.
What are you most proud of?
There are many things I am proud of. Spanish was my first language. I learned to speak English by taking English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. I also took English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes at Hillsborough County Community College. I graduated two semesters early from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in public health as a self-pay student. Having been raised in a poverty-stricken area in Bogotá, I’m very proud of this accomplishment. I taught myself to swim and I go scuba diving in the Caribbean at least twice a year. I’ve traveled to Asia, the Caribbean and throughout the Americas and I hope to go paragliding in Costa Rica soon. I am most proud of my mother Teresa Martinez. For the last twelve years, she’s worked in the Environmental Services department at Moffitt. She takes great pride in her work, something she instilled in her children to help us succeed.
How does your medical assistant role impact patients?
I was hired in September 2009 as a medical assistant in the Bone Marrow Transplant department. I just celebrated my tenth anniversary and it’s truly been a blessing to be part of the Moffitt team. I am the only MA in the clinic on weekends, so it’s imperative to be efficient at what I do. Many BMT patients require special care due to their immunocompromised condition. Not only are they physically ill, emotionally the process they endure is incredibly trying. My job is to goes above and beyond to ensure we meet their physical and emotional needs. I’ve had to learn to keep my own emotions in check so I can be a source of strength to help in their recovery. Patients can have confidence in my care.