Alice Dufresne Reyes, Gavilan College Nurse, retires after 24 years of taking care of othersby Jan Janes on May 15, 2018
When word spread that Alice Dufresne-Reyes was planning to retire, a team of counselors nominated her as faculty of the year to commemorate her final year.
Dufresne-Reyes was tapped for Gavilan's new position of college health nurse in 1994. By then she had two start ups to her credit.
Early in her career she worked as an RN in ICU, CCU and the emergency room. Her knowledge of Asian refugees led to founding the Santa Clara County Refugee Clinic in 1979. People received holistic and comprehensive screening for parasites and TB. The program grew through grant funding to employ 28 staff speaking 19 different languages. Refugees from all over the world came through the clinic.
Her second start up, South County Collaborative begun in 1991, is a consortium of nonprofit organizations, schools, public agencies, hospitals and clinics. It has grown to 54 members which continue to offer health and human services to the area's vulnerable populations.
Start Up Number Three
"I arrived with 16 years experience," Dufresne-Reyes said. "And I came with a big picture agenda."
Assessing the health needs of the students and staff, she started by stocking all the classrooms and office areas with first aid kits, scheduled appointments to administer TB screening tests and mentored dozens of Allied Health students.
Screening services enabled her, one on one, to form personal connections, allowing trauma to be revealed and solutions explored.
"I call the work therapeutic intervention," she said. "My goal with all health issues is to normalize it in order to talk about it."
Under her guidance the AIDS epidemic, safe sex activity, diabetes, tobacco addiction, LGBTQ awareness and mental health all have been addressed at the college.
Alice Dufresne-Reyes, Gavilan's health nurse, with Kathleen Moberg, Vice President
of Student Affairs, and Rose Navarro, health office assistant, in a quiet moment between
First Wednesday in October, Gavilan College Health Faire
Dufresne-Reyes started the health fair her first year at the college, and it has been held annually for 24 years. Dozens of health service organizations participate every year, and students flock to the Student Center for free, confidential screenings. Glucose, blood pressure, HIV, vision and other tests help students improve their personal knowledge of their health and locate resources in the community.
In addition to the annual health fair, the list of health awareness programs launched by Dufresne-Reyes is impressive:
- Implementing Health 101, Gavilan's online health magazine
- Coordinating annual flu clinics for students and staff
- Working with NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, to provide education and support
- Instituting Title IX training for students to prevent sexual assault, stalking, dating and domestic violence
- Producing and hosting "Go Ask Alice" which aired on community television for 10 years
- Hosting "Art with Impact," a mental health film series
- Hosting "The Hunting Ground," a film and panel addressing rape and sexual abuse
- Offering student workshops on stress management, sleep hygiene and other health issues
- Coordinating annual events including Great American Smokeout, Denim Day, Healthy Relationships Day
- Launching the Kognito online training program, so students and staff can identify and refer at-risk students
- Bringing the Active Minds campaign to the college, which works to prevent college student suicides
Starting many of these programs at Gavilan College required outside funding. Dufresne-Reyes put pen to paper and located grant money from many levels to ensure the programs would launch and continue.
Into the Classroom
"I got my MSN because I always wanted to teach," she said. In 2003 her chance opened up. Now retired Allied Health director Kay Bedell needed an instructor for an afternoon section of AH 3, Person in the Lifecycle. After spending her career applying the curriculum to real world problems, she has real world solutions to share in the classroom. "I love it, and the students do, too."
At the retirement luncheon, the North Lounge was filled with well-wishers. Dr. Kathleen Rose
noted that Dufresne-Reyes made a point of seeing people on their first day at the college
and was always taking care of others.
Thinking About the Next Start Up
Dufresne-Reyes will depart Gavilan College the end of May. Her retirement short list includes working on a children's book, traveling with family and spending time with her 11 month old grandchild.
She will return to teach in Fall 2019.
"In this transition, there's more work now, there's that much more need," said Dufresne-Reyes. ""I am supposed to be winding down, take time to be away, look at what's next."
Alice Dufresne-Reyes (center), during her retirement luncheon, is flanked by
daughter Simone Reyes, EOP&S/Foster counselor at Gavilan College, and husband
Dr. Valentine Reyes.