Aloha for Dr. Nanette Judd: Focusing on family

Dr. Nanette Judd is retiring at the end of 2010, and a lot of people are finding it difficult to say goodbye.

The halls around the Department of Native Hawaiian Health will seem a lot emptier, according to Judd’s colleagues, who have watched her steer the Imi Hoʻola Post Baccalaureate Program with a steady hand since 1986.

“She has been the pathfinder and guiding light for our indigenous and disadvantaged students,” said Chessa DeCambra, Program Assistant. “She has put Hawaiʻi on the map in terms of minority education, and has had a direct impact on increasing the diversity of our physician workforce,” DeCambra said.

Judd, who earned her PhD while working full-time running Imi Hoʻola, wants to focus now on family. “Giving back,” she said, “To the core: my family, the community, and my church.”

That she has already given so much in her 30 years of service to the medical school is something you must nudge Dr. Judd to talk about. Her modesty doesn’t permit her to use the word “accomplishments.” But she admits there have been what she likes to call “exciting” developments. Among them: leading the Department of Native Hawaiian Health to receive $1.3 million in funding for The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence, and expanding the number of students who can enroll each year in Imi Hoʻola.

Her greatest rewards come from hearing about the careers of the students who have gone back to the communities they came from, to practice medicine and serve where they are most needed.

“It has been absolutely wonderful to see Imi Hoʻola go from a premedical enrichment program with 25 or 30 students in a class to what is now, a way for more than 60 to 80 applicants every year to work their way to guaranteed acceptance in medical school,” Judd said.

Dr. Judd believes the people she leaves behind at the medical school are more than up to the task of taking Imi Hoʻola forward.

“I very strongly believe in succession planning, to pass on the baton,” said Judd. “We have spent years gathering the professionals we have here who believe in the mission to reach out to and educate our under-served populations.

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