Our people: Nurse found her calling early

Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico Clovis Schools Director of Health Services Rhonda Sparks believes there is a difference between medicine and healing. She said just because medicine can’t fix a health issue, you can still heal a person with human kindness.

Name: Rhonda Sparks

Profession: Director of health services for Clovis Municipal Schools

Birthdate: Nov. 30, 1961

Hometown: Grants, New Mexico

Family: Sons Brandon, 22, and Craig, 15, and daughter Mariah, 17

Rhonda Sparks is also known as Mama Sparks. It all started when her oldest son’s friends started calling her Mama Sparks. The nickname trickled down to the friends of her three

children. At any day of the week, she said she has four or five teenage boys over for her famous green chili chicken enchiladas. She said she’s the “go to mom” and she’s blessed because her children have great friends with parents they can count on as much as they can count on her.

Who’s invited to your fantasy dinner party and why? It would include Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Florence Nightengale. They were all interested in improving humanity.

Tell us about your pet: We have a golden retriever named Amber. We got her because when we moved to Clovis we left the dog we had behind. Brandon came and told me one day that Craig was crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said “I’m just a boy growing up without a dog.”

What would you like printed on your gravestone? With Mother’s Day coming up, I always say don’t celebrate Mother’s Day big. Honor me all the time, love me all the time. I put the same theory to my gravestone. Don’t put big fluffy stuff on my headstone. Remember me in life. Either that or “It could have been worse.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? I always knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was two or three. My grandmother had a doll and I would paint horrible wounds on her and bandage them up. I went to nursing school at 17 and have been a nurse since I was 19. I believe there is a great difference between medicine and healing. I know many things can’t make people better but you can held heal them with human kindness and human touch.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in nursing? I can’t fathom that. But I would want to own a tea shop and I would teach people to garden, plant things and how to keep them alive. You know when Lowe’s has all the plants on sale and they’re almost dead? I go buy those. I can make them live.

What do you envision your life being like in 10 years? I would like to have completed my nurse practitioners degree, live in that place with mountains and water and have my own clinic.

What’s your idea of a perfect day? It would involve water and mountains, happy children and a good book.

Who is your hero and why? My maternal grandmother Clara. She was a woman who worked in what was truly a man’s work. She was the first female personnel director in a uranium mining company. She taught me anything was possible.

What is your favorite taste? Salty. I’m a chips and salsa kind of girl. And green chili.

What is your favorite smell? Fresh cut flowers after it’s rained. It’s clean and signifies hope.