Interview with Eva Hernandez-Thomas

Eva Hernandez-Thomas is the newest addition to “The Ford Member Connection” interview series. She has many commitments and interests, among them two Library groups, the Oak Leaf Society and the Knitting Circle (where she made the ruffled scarf in this photo).

The Library Foundation established an Oak Leaf Society for members who meet or pledge to a certain level of giving to support the Library. Why did you make this commitment?

My husband and I decided to participate as Oak Leaf Society members as a way to support your effort on the preservation of our Library and its mission.

You’re also active in the Knitting Circle, tell us about that group.

My mother taught me every manual art she knew: crocheting, knitting, macramé, tatting, quilting, etc. I am not good at any, but I successfully fake expertise! I have a soft spot in my heart for this group. It’s women from different backgrounds and ethnicities, where all are welcome and help each other.

For one Knitting Circle meeting, you brought in a representative of Deborah’s Place, an organization that helps Chicago women at risk. You are also concerned about many issues, including health care for low income populations. Please comment on how your work as a Certified Clinical Psychologist and a Professor at the School of Public Medicine at the University of Illinois correlates with your social concerns.

I volunteered for many years at Deborah’s Place. I continue helping them as much as I can. I belong to a number of Boards, with the idea to facilitate that our underserved communities are not ignored.

I work now with the UIC School of Public Health and UIC College of Nursing. My work has been focused on psychosocial components of chronic disease, such as asthma, diabetes and obesity. When I was growing up in my family in Mexico, we did not have a choice: you could choose your college, but you were going to college! When I came to the United States, I already had a Bachelor’s in Nursing and was a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing to become a Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist. During my first year of training, my placement site was West Town. I am ashamed to say that I learned more about my native country than when I was there. I felt in my heart the pain and needs of underserved communities, the hardships they go through with very little or no support. So, for the last 30 years, the underserved are at the center of my life. They are my inspiration and a daily reminder to thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on our families.

You’re also a member of the Midwest Bonsai Society; how does this fit into your life?

I love working with my Bonsai Trees– that is where I recharge. I have been doing that for over 25 years. Again, I am not good, but I fake it!

Any other thoughts?

Finally, I have been blessed with a husband (Dr. Paul Thomas) who from day one has supported my efforts to grow professionally, as a mother, as a wife and the most important, as a human being. Without his support, I am positive I would not be where I am now.

The Ford Member Connection regularly spotlights Library members. Please let us know whom you’d like to read about.

To read past interviews, please visit: http://bit.ly/2d8wVjc