Ten Signs Your Loved One Could Benefit From a Care Companion

We are surrounded by inspirational people – if we’ll just take the time to ask questions and listen! I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Jean Deupree, one of our clients at Outreach Patient Advocates. I’m so glad I got this chance, because I am awed by the experiences she’s had in her life! 

Born in 1942 in Washington, DC, Jean Deupree  was the middle girl between two boys – one a mere fourteen months older, and the other a whopping nine years younger. Her parents met in Bloomington, Indiana where they wrote for competing newspapers.

When she was only seven or eight years old, Jean decided that she wanted to be a scientist. Her immediate family were writers, but science runs in her family. Jean’s grandfather was a pharmacist and owned a drugstore in Bloomington, and her uncle was a scientist, too in Michigan!

Later, the family moved to Michigan. Jean was in high school at this time, and she enjoyed living in the Midwest. Her mother was a journalist at the local newspaper in Big Rapids, MI. Jean’s father was in charge of Public Relations at Ferris University.  

After graduating from high school, Jean went on to college. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy from Ferris University. It was a five-year program at that time. Upon graduating, one of Jean’s instructors encouraged her to keep going in school. Jean followed that advice, earning her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University on a full scholarship.

Because she wanted to become a Pharmacology Professor, Jean decided to do pharmacology research for two years as a postdoctoral student at the University of Wisconsin.

Jean recalled driving past the National Institute of Health (an ugly red brick building) and the Naval Medical Center (much more extravagant looking) as a child and thinking, “I want to end up in the red brick building.” She DID end up in that red brick building when she worked for the NIH in 1984.

Finally, it was time for Jean to begin her university research and teaching career. As she looked for employment, she found UNMC. Her friend was already on staff there, and he vouched for her. Jean found the people from UNMC to be so kind and friendly that she agreed to join the staff as a pharmacology assistant professor.

During her time at UNMC, Jean was responsible for securing funding for her research. Though a difficult task, Jean went on to get many grants. Her research included a variety of areas of pharmacology, including how neurotransmitters work, how anti-epilepsy drugs work and the impact of drug therapy on the sympathetic nervous system.

When Jean was starting her career, the U.S. was a tumultuous place for a variety of reasons. The women’s rights movement was getting started at this time. Jean said that, although she didn’t face any sexual harassment, her career was definitely impacted by discrimination when it came to publishing articles. She worked hard to compete in a field that was dominated by men.

After a long career, Jean finally retired from UNMC in 2010, at the age of sixty-four. She had attained the title of full professor, spending an amazing thirty-five years as a scientist and teacher. 

I asked Jean what she felt made her so successful. She couldn’t name one characteristic, but spoke about how much she loved helping people. By studying pharmacology, she felt she would be able to help lots of people.

For example, Jean found it very exciting to teach medical students and help them learn. She loved being part of awakening their curiosity.

When Jean embarked on her retirement, she became very active in bible study and prayer meetings. Her Catholic faith has always been the most important part of her life, which is clear to all of those who spend time with her. She shares her faith with everyone who comes in the room. Jean humbly speaks about the gifts God has given her, and points out that we all have different gifts. We’re so thankful that Jean has shared her gifts with each of us at Outreach!