November 1, 2017

The world beyond work: Shelia Gad

I have a much stronger faith, having gone through what I’ve been through and seeing this plan that has come out of it.

Photo by Anne Rayner.

Shelia Gad, administrative officer for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, has been at Vanderbilt since 1984 and in that time has also worked in the Child Development Center, Endocrinology, Nursing Continuing Education, Medical Records, Hospital Administration, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. And, she proudly notes, all three of her children—now ages 27, 25 and 19—were born at VUMC. Interview has been edited and condensed. Photo by Anne Rayner.

What is your daily life like?

This past summer I moved into a new house in a subdivision in Hendersonville. I’ve never built a house before and it was exciting to go by every day and watch it being built. Now I’m there, but still settling in. It’s close to church and it’s close to the bypass, so that’s great. While it was being built I was housesitting for some friends who have a house on Old Hickory Lake, and I miss having a lake house, but it’s nice to have a new house of my own.

I got divorced this past year, and I went to Divorce Care [support group]. [One of the people I met there] is on the board of Home Safe, which is a domestic abuse shelter for Sumner, Robertson and Wilson Counties. She needed some help at Home Safe and several of the ladies who were in my group offered to help. I was recently asked to serve on the board of directors for Home Safe. I feel like all these things have come to fruition. My divorce was awful, but the positive things that are coming out of it have really been amazing. I have a much stronger faith, having gone through what I’ve been through and seeing this plan that has come out of it. I go to Jazzercise two or three times a week. I’m at church a lot. I’ve made a very active life out of it.

What is the nicest compliment you ever received?

I worked in Nursing Continuing Education for about eight years – Becky Culpepper was the Director of Nursing CE and that was my first job where I supervised anybody. A couple of the girls who reported to me then still work here and I see them on occasion. Recently, one of them said to me that I was the best supervisor that she had ever had and that she compares all of her other supervisors to me. I think this was probably the nicest compliment that I ever had, for somebody who I supervised especially when I was so new at it to hold me in such high regard.

When you were in high school, what kind of kid were you?

I guess a goody two-shoes. [Laughs] I was in the flag corps, I didn’t get in a lot of trouble. I worked part-time at Captain D’s. I wasn’t the smartest kid in class, but I was pretty smart. I was quiet. And one of the things I still think about—when [the class] voted on superlatives, there was a tie between me and this other girl for friendliest. So they had a re-vote, and when it came back the other girl got it—so I was, like, second friendliest. I was the runner-up friendliest [laughs].

I didn’t really come into my skin until after I had gotten out of high school. I was sort of a late bloomer. My mom died when I was in high school. She was sick from the time I was 12 and she died when I was 16.  It’s hard losing your mom at 16, there’s so many things that I never got to share with her, my marriage, my children. I know she would have been an awesome grandmother.

What is your favorite book?

I’m not a big reader, but one of the books I really liked was “The Help” [by Kathryn Stockett]. That was one of those books that you didn’t want it to end. I was sad when it was over because I wanted to keep reading the stories.

Is there a favorite vacation or trip that you’ve been on?

I like the beach and I like the mountains. There was a girls’ trip to Hilton Head [several years ago] that was pretty amazing. I’ve been on several cruises. I love to go on cruises, but I haven’t been on one in a long time.

This past year I went to Denver—my daughter moved to Denver—and I’d never been there before. And to see the mountains—it’s so hard to imagine that the mountains are so big! We drove up into the mountains to Breckinridge one day, and the snow got deeper and deeper and it got colder and colder.

I really want to go to Alaska one day. That would be my dream. And I want to go to Europe one day. Since I’m Catholic I’d love to go see the churches. I guess the two places on my bucket list are Rome and Alaska.