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Across all of Cook Children's, a sense of family leads to a comforting and reassuring environment for patients, parents and staff. For Marisol Adewunmi and Briyet Sigala, they don't just 'feel' like family – they are family!
These sisters grew up near our main campus; so it was natural that Cook Children's always held a special place in their hearts.
Their Cook Children's journey began with Marisol, at the age of 16. While attending Trimble Tech High School, she embraced the opportunity her school's health sciences technology program offered that led her to our Save A Smile program.
Under the guidance of Tonya Fuqua, DDS, Marisol was a part of the early days of the program, which provides preventive and restorative dental care for children from low-income families with the help of volunteer dentists.
Flourishing in the role throughout high school and during her undergraduate work at TCU, Marisol knew she would eventually move on but wouldn't more far. "At first, I became an EMT but I always knew I wanted to be a nurse," she recalled. "After seeing the hospital rotations here, I firmly believed that it was where I wanted to be. There was no other place that I even considered or applied to."
With a degree in nursing and a path ahead to fulfill that dream, Marisol was faced with moving on from a role she embodied for five years. They say as one door closes, another opens; and that's exactly how it played out...but with a twist. You see, Briyet was standing there ready to walk through that door as Marisol stepped out.
"We had about two weeks of overlap during which I got to train Briyet on the job," Marisol said. "But, I admit, she pushed that program to places that I hadn't. She made it her own and developing it really fits with her logistical and problem-solving mind."
"Marisol is selling herself short," Briyet interjected. "She brings an emotional and relational approach to everything she does. That's what made her do so well with Save A Smile. It allows for a connection to kids in a very real place of need because she wanted to be the one to help them through."
As Briyet progressed through TCU herself, but not following in her sister's footsteps, she had her sights on becoming a physical therapist. After graduating, she began working as a rehab tech with Cook Children's outpatient clinic.
"For me, I wanted to have the connection with the patients but not necessarily in a hospital," Briyet remembered. "Through my time in outpatient rehab, I fell in love with the whole process of providing equipment that improves life for a child."
At the time, Cook Children's didn't have a custom mobility program yet; so Briyet actually left for five months to work for a company that provided such equipment. But she still would be a regular presence in her old clinic in her new job seeing patients.
"It dawned on me that Cook Children's is home and there's no place like home," she said with a chuckle. "When I heard that a custom mobility program in Home Health was in development, I knew I needed to come back to rehab until that program was ready, which is where I am now as an ATP (Assistive Technology Professional)."
Befitting of an older sister, Marisol added, "I never said 'I told you so,' but I did tell her she would regret leaving Cook Children's." Briyet quickly replied, "But leaving gave me the experience I needed for this; so, basically, we were both right."
Spending just a few minutes with Marisol and Briyet with finishing each other sentences, expressing mutual love and respect and sharing plenty of laughs, you'd be hard pressed to find a pair of sisters closer than them. They complement each other nicely and leave a lasting impression, even for patients.
"I've had patients that were discharged from one of our critical care units that would eventually end up with Briyet," Marisol said. "They'll tell her, 'You remind me of this nurse we have.'"
"That's when I get to explain that's my sister," Briyet said. "Personally, that's a very high compliment, if I carry myself the same way as Marisol." "Aww...Thank you and I'm just as happy when people say the same thing to me about you," Marisol added.
Such a consoling and compassionate approach to life and others for these sisters is a credit to their upbringing. Without hesitation, both answered, "Mom," when asked who they are most like.
"Our mom taught us the dynamic of helping each other as family but also helping others in general," Marisol said. "It's true. She taught us compassion in a way that I don't think any other person on Earth could," Briyet continued. "She is just so unbelievably selfless and caring."
And for instilling such an invaluable quality in her daughters who apply that to their work here, Cook Children's is deeply grateful to their mother.
Ultimately, the desire to not just make a difference in a person's life but to make an impact is at the heart of Marisol and Briyet's lives. Such a motivation perfectly encompasses all that Cook Children's is and why together we can say #WeAreCookChildrens.