Odessa, Texas (Nexstar) – There is no shortage of women in our area who do remarkable things every day. We’re shining a light on women who go above and beyond for our community.
Suzanne Rathbun is one of our 2022 Remarkable Women finalists. She hopes her story will motivate other women to be involved in their community while also fulfilling their dreams.
Inside the Department of Psychology at the University of the Permian Basin, there’s an educator who practices daily what it takes to go above and beyond not only for her students, but an entire community.
Many would describe Clinical Associate Academic Advisor Suzanne Rathbun as beyond remarkable.
“I’m so involved and I like it, and it changes, now I am doing academic advising and committees … data analysis,” said Rathbun. “It’s different and it’s great to see the students.”
You can find Rathbun either helping her students and family, volunteering or taking phone calls. Originally, from Kansas, Rathbun made her way to the Permian Basin more than 30 years ago after her husband took a teaching job.
“So, I started my master’s in clinical psychology and finished and they never let me leave,” said Rathbun.
She has been teaching at UTPB for more than 20 years and also helps run the clinic for students that are taking their practicum.
“Never [I] thought I would be a teacher … [I] taught classes [and] started this clinic for our master students mainly because during our practicum we needed some place to do it,” she said. “Because you can’t do it at your job, so that’s how this clinic has come about and we service the Permian Basin.”
What she enjoys the most is running into her students long after they left the classroom and have children of their own.
“I’ve had mothers and they brought their kids to class,” shared Rathbun.
And some of those kids ended up being one of her students as well.
“Well, the most recent one was Lynn-White Geisler who is the head of Casa and her daughter Kelby,” said Rathbun. “I seen her since she was little.”
Geisler is currently Executive Director of Casa of the Permian Basin. She tells ABC Big 2 that one of the fondest memories she has of Rathbun is when she combed her daughter’s hair for a dance one night while she was working on her practicum.
“I’m not a hair person, so Suzanne did Kelby’s hair and then another funny thing is that my daughter went back and got her degree,” said Geisler. “[She] got her bachelor’s in psychology and had Suzanne [as a teacher] too.”
Aside from being fully involved in the Department of Psychology, Geisler said there’s not an organization that Rathbun has not been a part of.
“Over the years, she has been constant and she still is… I don’t know how she has so much energy,” said Geisler.
Besides teaching classes, Rathbun has volunteered as an usher for the Wagner Noel Theater, served as a Casa Board Member, [involved in] Boy Scouts of America, Parent Teacher Association, member of ASD 480 Board of Education, Rotary Club of Odessa and the list continues.
“You just do it… it’s not only part of my job but it’s also part of maybe who I am – I’ll just take people in if they need some place to stay,” said Rathbun. “I guess it’s me, it was in my mother and maybe it’s just part of my family.”
Rathbun said she hopes other women who watch her story will be encouraged to volunteer and be part of the their community as well.
“I’m not someone who gets out and talks about myself, I just do,” she said.
She said being a part of different boards have all been rewarding and despite the time commitments… she would do it all over again.
She’s really an inspiration.