Countless hours of heart-wrenching conversations have forever changed Dedra Booth. Working for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a decade has exposed her to the struggles and heartaches that military men and women face upon returning home after serving overseas.
“They give up everything so that we can have freedom. They are truly heroes. My work at the VA is one way that I can give back to them for all that they sacrifice for us,” she said.
As a Senior Contracting Officer at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Booth is responsible for the development of Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) and provides healthcare resources for five medical centers: Las Vegas, Long Beach, Loma Linda, San Diego and West Los Angeles.
While primarily working on the logistical development of CBOCs, her responsibilities also include working with contracts designed to provide housing to homeless veterans. Booth takes pride in her work. “My hours and hours of work are worth it, to make sure that they have a place to stay.”
In 2004, Booth began working for the VA in the business office as an accounts receivable technician. It took only a short time before she realized she wanted to do more and that a college degree would help her advance her career. She took classes at three colleges to complete her undergraduate degree, often taking 22 units per semester while working full-time. She ultimately earned her MBA from the University of La Verne in 2012 and is currently working toward a second master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, which she expects to complete at La Verne this summer.
“I am ambitious, enjoy the challenge and have a love for education. I know there are numerous opportunities available; therefore, I push hard to conquer them,” Booth said. Her goal is to get into health care management with the VA as well as become a university professor.
Her La Verne degree has been instrumental in helping her develop professionally. She credits her academic and professional accomplishments to her professors who understood all that she had to juggle on a daily basis just to get by. On many occasions, she would have to take her homework with her on business trips and ask professors if they would work around her schedule, especially when she had to take care of her mother in the hospital. “I really appreciated that they would extend the deadlines and work with me. It’s one of the many reasons that I love La Verne,” Booth said.
In addition to taking care of her mother’s multiple health needs, Booth helps to take care of her two nieces, Aniah, 7, and Asia, 3. She also gives back to the community as a licensed missionary. “It is so fulfilling, and fills my heart with joy,” she said.
Despite a hectic schedule, Booth continues to be inspired by the work she does and her family who motivates her cause. “I see the sacrifice that our service men and women have made,” she said. “I want to do my part to make sure they are taken care of when they need it.”