SALT LAKE CITY – Much like she did during her Lady Bulldog basketball career, Rebecca Rowsey Desso is making an impact. This time, it is in the fight against COVID-19.
As an anesthesiologist at the University of Utah hospital, Desso is living on the front lines of this worldwide pandemic. Everything has changed for this former women’s basketball student-athlete, who played at Georgia from 2004-08.
While she used to assist in both emergency and elective surgeries, these past few months have been filled with crucial procedures to help save the lives of those fighting this virus. Desso suits up in her personal protective equipment [pictured below] to protect herself and her patients as she enters the operating room to help those who have been infected with COVID-19.
This has also impacted her work in outpatient medicine. Not only is she limited to treating patients via tele-health appointments, she is also dealing with a drug shortage as a result of the increasing amount of critically ill patients.
While putting on a brave face may be difficult when surrounded by so much sickness, Desso says her and her colleagues have stayed positive during these difficult times.
“I think I am really lucky to work with a bunch of people who are super friendly and kind,” said Desso. “We really have a family atmosphere. If anything is stressful or wearing on you, you have people you can talk to and get advice from. As far as mental health goes during all of this, we are really lucky the weather has been nice. We are able to get outside, go for a walk, burn off some energy and clear our heads.”
No matter what happens during the day, it is her husband and their 18-month old baby boy who bring much-needed perspective. Though work is more stressful, Desso says she has actually had more time to spend with her family, and now has a better understanding and appreciation for home schooling.
“I feel for those with kids in school because I could not imagine having to homeschool and keep them entertained,” Desso noted. “It is hard enough to keep my 18-month old entertained when we can’t go to the library or the park.”
Like many other communities, she has seen encouraging behavior in her city to help those in the healthcare industry. From food to equipment, local businesses have stepped up to lend a helping hand. Desso also commented on the ingenuity of her fellow anesthesiologists, with one of them transforming a full-face snorkel mask into personal protective equipment.
There is no doubt her time as a student-athlete helped shaped who Desso is today. When asked about her time at Georgia, she was quickly able to pinpoint certain characteristics she acquired that have allowed her to navigate not only this pandemic but her medical career as a whole.
“I think my time at Georgia with Coach (Andy) Landers really taught me perseverance and also helped me to learn how to keep a level head through adversity,” Desso stated. “That has been really helpful throughout my medical career and now during the pandemic.”
Desso continues to make all of those affiliated with the University of Georgia proud. The former forward who earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll each and every season and twice placed on the league’s community service team has always been a great ambassador for the Lady Bulldogs and the Georgia community.
As she reflects back on her college career, Desso immediately turns to today’s senior student-athletes who had their careers cut short.
“I think the end of a season is always bitter sweet,” said Rebecca. “You look back at your accomplishments and can be proud of all that you accomplished and what you worked for. It always hurts when the season comes to an end, especially your last season. So, I definitely feel for those student-athletes who had their senior year cut short. But they can always be proud of what they have done at Georgia and as a Bulldog. They can go forward with confidence that they learned life lessons that will help them be successful in the future.”
When it comes to success in life after college, Desso is the perfect example of how student-athletes are changing the world.