Filipino American history comes to life at UAA

Dr. Connie Mariano will be visiting UAA on October 14.

A woman familiar with firsts and breaking barriers, Mariano has been a heroine to the Filipino population of America.

Upon graduating with a Medical Degree from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in 1981, Mariano was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Eleven years later, she was appointed as the first military female White House Physician in U.S. history, serving under both Presidents Bush, as well as President Clinton.

In 2001, Mariano retired as the first Filipino American to have been a Navy Rear Admiral.

Dr. Mariano’s story hit headlines when she published her novel “White House Doctor: My Patients Were Presidents.”

Detailing her experience on being close to three separate Presidents in her career, Mariano writes, “I think a lot of people have the misconception that being a White House doctor is glamorous; that you sit in his limousine, you’re having dinner at his table. It’s not glamorous. You’re lugging around a 40-pound medical bag, you’re jumping in and out of cars and if he’s eating dinner, you’re behind the stage, behind the curtains starving.”

Coming from an impoverished background as the daughter of a U.S. Navy Steward in the Philippines, Mariano rose through the ranks to be a source of inspiration for the Filipino community.

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“Anything is possible and I tell people if I can make it, you can make it because I didn’t speak English when I came to this country. I went to public school. I mean we didn’t have much money, but we had opportunity and we had education,” Mariano writes.

Mariano’s visit to UAA is not entirely random. Throughout the state of Alaska, October has been declared Filipino American History Month.

For the second year, UAA has partnered with the Alaskero Partnership Organization to celebrate the achievements of Filipino Americans. Filipinos are the second largest Asian group in the nation, and the first in Alaska.

Gabriel Garcia, an Assistant Professor of Public Health at UAA and a member of the Alaskero Partnership, was instrumental in bringing Mariano to Alaska.

“After having a success last year, we started to brainstorm who we wanted to bring up and Dr. Mariano was at the top of the list,” Garcia said in a phone interview with TNL. W.

Garcia contacted Mariano on a whim, and surprisingly, she agreed to come up and speak.

Mariano will be at the Bookstore on the 14th for coffee and tea at 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., followed by a talk and reception in the Arts Building, room 150, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.