Moms Who Lead: Dr. Lisa Estrada-Hamby, Director of TRiO Programs at MSU

Are you a native of Wichita Falls?

I am a native of Wichita Falls, TX. I attended Alamo Elementary, Zundy Junior High, and Wichita Falls High.

What is your job in Wichita Falls and when did you know it was right for you?

Since 1992, I have worked at Midwestern State University directing the U. S. Department of Education TRiO programs.  From 1992 until 2010, I worked with the pre-colligate program, Upward Bound.  Since 2010, I have been working with the college program, Student Support Services.

Within the first four years of my employment, I knew this was the career field for me since I enjoyed watching students succeed.  Both TRiO programs work with first-generation and/or low-income students.  I myself was a first-generation student.

Do you have tips on how to balance your career and motherhood?

What a loaded but great question. I had to learn this in the early 2000s as I was not only a single parent to a toddler and was in my career for over ten years, but I was also a doctoral student at the University of North Texas where I had to travel to attend classes on the UNT campus. Time management and task management were key to my success in my endeavors.  My mother was my rock!  She helped me care for my daughter (Alyssa) as I commuted back and forth from Denton, TX. My balance came from spending time with my daughter and watching her grow up. 

What inspires you the most?

This question is easy; watching the students that I work with succeed.  Unfortunately, a lot of first-generation students do not know how to navigate the educational system. I have a great staff, which they themselves are first-generation students, who have become successful in their educational pursuits.  We all encourage and support our students.  For me, there is no better feeling than the day they cross that stage during graduation.  In my twenty-nine-year career at MSU, I make sure to attend every graduation.  I cheer, clap, and cry watching my kids as they become successful young adults. 

How did you handle your child going to college? How did you adjust?

I’m still trying to handle and adjust that my only child is a college student right now.  There are definitely growth pains.  I still see her as my baby and always will, however, I know that she needs to develop to the young woman she will become.  As for any young person, they need to learn and grow.  This may not be easy for either parent or child, and there will be a lot of bumps, but you have to let them figure it out (not the parent to help them figure it out) just be there if they fall for support or celebrate with them when they have achieved their accomplishments.

What is some advice that you can give to traditional or non-traditional students?

To any traditional and non-traditional students, I would say go for it!  Why not?  Things happen for a reason and you are at a place right now to move and progress forward to succeed and have greatness.

What is your favorite thing to do in Wichita Falls?

The pandemic changed some things for me this past year. I miss going to movies, going out to eat with friends and family, and attending more sporting events. This past fall was the first time in over forty years that I did not attend a high school or MSU football game. I was very sad.  I am definitely ready to watch football this fall. 

What is your favorite memory, in Wichita Falls?

My favorite memory? Now this is more difficult to answer because I have so many great memories.  I was born and raised in Wichita Falls.  There is not a day that I am not grateful for something.  I love my daughter, family, and friends who always make me a better person. But as in the previous question where I mention football, I would have to say going to Coyote Canyon for high school bonfires.  They were awesome. 

Is there anything that you are reading or listening to currently?

After my two hundred and four-page dissertation, I did not want to read anything for a while.  Hehehe. I think I read over one hundred referred journal articles and I was done.  However, I have most recently picked up some books in the Student Affairs area that I am enjoying. I just started How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. K

 When you want to give up, what do you do to keep going? 

I have a very positive and uplifting personality. I really never think about giving up. Now, that is not to say that I can become discouraged at times. When I felt that way, all I had to do is look at my daughter and the students that I work with.  They remind me to work hard each and every day because that is what I am asking from them.  My daughter and my students keep me on my toes daily and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I have worked with over 2,500 students in my career so far and I plan to work with many more in my future.  They are all my kids!!!

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