Graduate’s path to success began at DeBakey

In this week’s I am HISD, which features HISD graduates and HISD employees, DeBakey graduate Precious Williams Owodunni recalls how her time at the school – and at a busy hospital –  helped steer her toward a career in public service. Owudunni, who is founder and president of Mountaintop Consulting, is working with Houston leaders to develop a vision for the city’s future. 

Precious WIlliams Owodunni

Q: You were the valedictorian of your senior class in 1993 at DeBakey High School for Health Professions. What drove you to excel?

A: I had always been a hardworking student, but DeBakey really gave me a sense of where I could take that and set the bar even higher for me in terms of applying the things I was learning in the classroom.

Q: How did your experiences at DeBakey prepare you for the challenges that lay ahead?

A: DeBakey prepared me so well to compete, both as a student at Yale and for the scholarships I needed to go there. I was fortunate to receive a generous aid package from Yale itself, but I also received lots of scholarships from other great institutions, like Vinson & Elkins, Jones (the Houston Endowment), National Merit, and Coca-Cola.

Q: Your sister is the principal at Foerster ES and your mother recently retired from Worthing HS after 16 years in the classroom. What inspired you to take a different path?

A: I chose DeBakey because I had always dreamed of becoming a doctor, and I was lucky enough to be getting actual clinical experience as a sophomore there. But I vividly remember working at Ben Taub, and I realized that patient care was not going to be a fit for me. Luckily, DeBakey helped me get internships in healthcare administration and healthcare law, both of which are public service, which is a family tradition for us.

Q: I hear you’re active with the Center for Houston’s Future. What does your involvement there look like?

A: Right now I am on a learning journey focused on identifying the vision that Houston leaders share for what this region should look like in five or ten years. I’ve talked with Dr. Grier, the CEO of the Texas Medical Center, the Greater Houston Partnership chair, and the head of United Way so far, and interestingly, almost everyone was focused on education and workforce development.

Q: What advice would you offer to today’s students?

A: Take advantage of the opportunities that HISD presents. There is a lot of diversity of talent in HISD, and great practical education if you have a specific interest. But focus on getting the core skills right, really digging in in math, science, and reading, and taking advantage of what the district offers to master those, as they can apply to any career.

Q: Is there anything else people should know about you that I forgot to ask?

A: I am not an attorney. I went to law school, but my career is in business. If you have a strong, balanced educational foundation, you can be nimble as career opportunities develop over time.


If you know an HISD graduate or HISD employee who should be featured in I am HISD, please email us at info@houstonisd.org.