Alumni Success Story: Joanna Udo ’14

If you were to ask Joanna Udo ’14 ten years ago if she would have a flourishing career as a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health, she would say ‘no way!’ She was originally attracted to DU because of their growing nursing program, but randomly decided to pursue a technology degree instead. “This job helped me realize that you don’t have to be a doctor to make an impact on the lives of patients.” Learn more about Joanna and her path below.

Tell us about yourself, Joanna!

I am a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health. But, thinking back, this is not where I thought I would be today. My mother is a nurse, so growing up I thought I wanted to be a nurse or doctor. When it was time to go to college, my parents and I walked into the admissions office at Davenport to obtain all the necessary information for enrolling in the BSN program. During that visit I flipped through the DU catalog, looking at all the programs that were offered. I randomly, landed on computer networking. I remember saying, “This looks like fun, sign me up!” My mother looked at me and asked “What is that?!”, surprised at the sudden change of fields. I loved working with computers and knew enough about them to get by, so I started the program that year and never looked back. I graduated with two degrees in computer networking and network security in 2014.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health, I support system infrastructure needed to facilitate and enhance patient care. My job is to make sure the direct care staff have the tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. While Systems Engineer is a broader title, my focus is on voice engineering providing support for the phone systems throughout the Spectrum Health System. My team and I manage more than 23,000 phones at over 200 locations. It is fascinating to think about the infrastructure and all of behind the scenes work that is required to keep the systems stable. Not only do we ensure all the phones are running as they should, we also set up special requests, support Jabber – our instant messenger application, and manage new site conversions. At the same time, we have to do a lot of day-to-day maintenance and support the existing systems.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Securing a job in my field prior to graduation.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about healthcare, the community and promoting diversity in the field of technology. I have worked with Spectrum for five years (one of that as a contractor). Throughout my years here, I have come to the realization that everyone in the organization has a great impact in the lives of our patients.  Knowing that the work I do helps save lives and allows me to give back to the community is a dream come true.

What do you do when you are not working?

My mom owns multiple adult foster care homes, where we care for mentally disabled adults 24/7. When I am not working, I help run the business as I am the entire HR department – hiring, compensation, compliance, scheduling etc. I also like to volunteer in the community and attend events that are geared towards technology professionals as well as promoting diversity in the tech field. I am the Membership Director for a professional group called Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

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