Know Your Heroes: Mariana E. Arteaga

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Mariana E. Arteaga
Title: Business Officer at The Wilson Centre, UHN
Number of years working in health care: 41
I was born and raised in: Guayaquil, Ecuador, South America and came to Toronto in 1974.

I decided to get into health care because after I finished college my first and only job had been with the University of Toronto. In 1980, I started at the Best Institute of Medical Research on College St., and in 1983 I moved to what is now The Wilson Centre, which became a jointly governed education research unit between the University of Toronto and University Health Network in 1996. At the time, I had no idea that I would be working as an administrative staff with such wonderful and talented scientific leaders dedicated to the science of healthcare education. I have always been treated like a valuable and contributing member of The Wilson Centre team and this has influenced my decision to continue to work in health care for the past 41 years.

My role here at UHN is to provide administrative skills in various domains, including human resources, financial management and ensuring the smooth day-to-day operations of the various academic programs of The Wilson Centre. It is a pleasure to be able to assist and connect with the many Wilson Centre stakeholders, including academics, administrative staff, trainees and research assistants.  I enjoy my interactions in a wonderful team environment tremendously. The Wilson Centre holds a very special place in my heart and I’m here to stay until my retirement.

COVID-19 has affected me by feeling a bit isolated as I have always worked in the office where I was interacting with my colleagues all the time. However, staying connected virtually with everyone has helped tremendously by making my job enjoyable and allowing me to still feel like part of the team. I have been blessed with good health during these challenging times.

The thing I love the most about my job is
the people I work with and connect with daily, not only locally, but nationally and internationally. Being able to help, support and contribute to my team members is very rewarding. It is truly a privilege to learn about their stories, struggles and challenges, and have some of them share their personal experiences openly with me. I’m referred to as the “mom” and they are like a family to me. I am also aware that in addition to being valued for my relationship building role, members of The Wilson Centre also value me for being a highly competent professional.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is watching our students excel and grow academically, professionally and personally, with some of them becoming scientists several years later. Being able to witness and hear about their engagements, weddings and having a family makes me feel profoundly proud to be part of their life journey.

I’m inspired by
the resilience of people. During the challenging times of COVID-19, it is amazing to see individuals working through difficult and sometimes complex situations and finding ways to cope during tough times.

One of my personal heroes is my mom because she did her best bringing up six children and had the courage to bring us all to Toronto in 1974. She taught me to be humble, compassionate and respectful, and to always look forward and never live in the past.  

I sometimes worry about being overwhelmed or emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands. I’m blessed that The Wilson Centre team is committed to their work and very supportive of one another. The leaders always encourage us to look after our own wellness – physical, mental and social well-being.

I’ve found joy recently by enjoying my morning coffee and then walking with my dog, Mya, in the Humber River trails before starting my day.  

My favourite movie is The Notebook because of the long romantic love of the couple; how the husband expressed his compassion, caring, empathy, understanding, patience and kindness to his wife with Alzheimer’s disease. How sad and heartbreaking it must be to watch someone not be able to recognize their own family.

My ideal day off is sitting on my veranda and enjoying a cup of tea with my three grandkids when they come to visit.

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