Meet Carol Huber, DrPH, a School of Public Health alumni and the newest faculty member in San Antonio

A patient, dedicated approach to getting her doctorate helped Huber balance her life as a student

Carol Huber, DrPH, is the newest faculty member in San Antonio, as well as deputy chief public health and equity officer at the University Health's Institute for Public Health.
Carol Huber, DrPH, is the newest faculty member in San Antonio, as well as deputy chief public health and equity officer at the University Health's Institute for Public Health.

The first time Carol Huber looked at the application for a doctoral program she couldn’t even start it. Her two young daughters and a full-time job kept her busy, and the idea of adding anything else to her life made her feel overwhelmed.

“When I first started to think about a doctorate, I sat down at the computer and I couldn’t even get through the application requirements,” Huber said. “I was like, ‘I'm tired just reading this. There’s no way.’”

So, Huber closed the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health application and put that dream on hold. But one day, gradually, it didn’t seem as impossible.

“The kids got a little older and they were becoming more self-sufficient,” Huber said, “and I sat down again, and I read through the application, and thought, ‘Okay, that wasn't so hard. Now, can I take the next three steps?’”

With a patient and deliberate attitude, one step at a time, one class at a time, year after year, as a busy mom and professional, Huber climbed the doctoral mountain.

“I only took one class at a time, because I didn’t want to look back and not remember their childhood,” Huber said. “A lot of times we did our homework together. But now my kids can look back and see that their mom did that.”

When she began working towards her DrPH degree, Huber knew it would take her a full 8 years to finish her degree, but the slow and steady process never concerned her, she said.

“You don't have to choose between a career or school. You can do both, it just may take a little bit longer and you can apply what you are learning every day at work.”

A doctorate in public health made sense to Huber as she had already been working in public health at University Health in San Antonio for years. When she finally graduated with her doctorate from UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in 2020, Huber said she almost couldn’t believe it was really happening, but big changes were on the horizon.

Shortly after graduating, University Health asked Huber to lead the new Institute for Public Health as Deputy Chief Public Health and Equity Officer. This year Huber added another part-time job on top of her role at University Health when she became an assistant professor at the San Antonio location of UTHealth Houston School of Public Health.

Huber said leading the Institute for Public Health is more than a full-time responsibility, and she was not looking for a faculty job, but her reputation for careful, thoughtful work and her long history of working to improve community health made her a top candidate when Jack Tsai, PhD, regional dean in San Antonio, started looking for someone to help lead the dual degree program.

“Dr. Huber is a living success story of somebody who graduated from our school and now serves as a public health leader in the San Antonio community,” Tsai said. “She is exactly the person we needed to help us guide our next generation of public health leaders in training.”

Huber herself has an MBA from UTSA and said she has always been a big believer in the benefits of marrying business and health degrees.

“While I've always been a public health person, I tell anyone who will listen that the MBA was one of the best things I did to help me be more effective as a leader,” Huber said.

The part of her new faculty role that Huber is most excited about, though, is mentoring and advising students.

“I've been really fortunate in my career to have had great people support and shepherd me along and nudge me in a direction I might not have thought to consider,” Huber said. “I'm at a place in my career where I really feel like that's the most meaningful part of my work. When I was a kid, I didn't know anybody who had a PhD. It never crossed my mind that would be something I would pursue. But there was that one person who sort of tapped me on the shoulder and said you could do that and continued to remind me that I could do it. I'd like to turn around and be that person for somebody else.”

Despite staying very busy with her two jobs and two nearly grown kids, Huber said she doesn’t limit her life to being a mom and public health professional.

“I have an active fun life, too,” Huber said. “We go hiking, we travel, we explore the world and go camping and backpacking. I think you have to have a well-balanced approach to life to stay sane.”

Last year she and her husband hiked a 100-mile trail in the Alps to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and this year they are taking a road trip across Great Britain. Huber said they’ve done many long-distance hikes over the years, including backpacking across the Grand Canyon and back.

“To me it’s very symbolic,” Huber said. “If you have a goal you want to achieve, if you want to get somewhere, take it one step at a time. You just pace yourself, learn as you go, carry only what you need and help other people along the way.”

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