Michelle (Perlberg) Kaufman, Thomas Jefferson, 1988
“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow” Edward Teller
Mother, wife, caregiver, director, teammate, supporter, volunteer… Jacket. Michelle (Perlberg) Kaufman has worn many hats throughout her time in Council Bluffs and continues to juggle those hats as an active Alumna.
While at Thomas Jefferson, Michelle humbly says she was a “regular high school student” and participated in “regular high school activities”. She was a member of National Honor Society, was in the choir, and played volleyball. It was junior year English class that holds a special memory; it’s where she met her now husband Brian. Time spent away from the classroom was spent hanging with friends in the commons area and the courtyard, cruising Broadway when that was still an option of course, and hanging out with friends that have became lifetime friends.
Reflecting on her path to her current role, Director of Oncology Services at Methodist Jennie Edmundson, Michelle credits her science teachers at Thomas Jefferson for helping to guide her journey. Mr. Todd, her physics teacher and Ms. C’de Baca, her chemistry teacher set her on the path for her love of science. “Kid Chem” was the program that started it all. As a member of the group led by these teachers, she was able to select an experiment and then travel to area schools to teach kids more about science and the experiment itself. It was then that she knew science would be at the core of what she would find as her vocation. She says, “Radiation therapy is all about science, similar to nursing but a bit more science geeky”.
After the ceremonial tassel switch, her path took her to UNO for undergraduate work. From there she transferred to Jennie Edmundson, back to UNO for additional courses and ultimately finishing her Bachelor of Science degree in Radiation Science Technology at UNMC. This past December, she added more strength to her educational background and earned her MS in Health Operations Management. She now has the opportunity to take her passion for patient care and past experience to empower others to take the best care of patients possible.
As active as her sons, Jared 13 and Jacob 17 keep her; she is also active in the Council Bluffs community. She is active in her sons’ schools, Boys Scouts, was a past member of Council Bluffs Service League, a graduate of Leadership Council Bluffs, a board member of Wings of Hope and active with Methodist Jennie Edmundson Spirit of Courage and Foundation activities.
As a graduate of the Council Bluffs school system, and now a parent of two future CB Alumni, Michelle is thankful for the education they are receiving today. She credits the shift to focusing on what students can do to prepare for college and post graduation endeavors and away from what students need to do in order to have an “early out”. She feels her boys have had excellent teachers and those teachers have been actively interested in students’ outside lives and encourage a team approach involving parents in the education process. Communication is the key, and credits teachers and TAG strategists for understanding the special needs of all students. Teachers are “future focused” and encourage college level classes and additional opportunities, preparing students for the next chapter whatever that might be. As a recent graduate student, she is also has a new appreciation for the technology available. Chrome books, Google classroom, limited books and notebooks – all part of the modern digital age for students. Gaining a comfort level with technology is so important for students; to gain an early understanding and an aptitude to be able to utilize it in future education and career vocations.
Michelle is fortunate to have technology and community enhancements as part of her professional life as well. Her department recently unveiled the new True Beam linear accelerator and office remodel to the community. She is proud to be part of the team that was able to bring the newest technology to oncology patients in Southwest Iowa and the opportunity to be able to incorporate new treatment possibilities into patient care plans. On a daily basis she is part of the patient centered process and the connection science plays in the treatment of cancer. Science and the desire to provide care for patients with cancer are the core principles that brought her to the field.
As a native of Council Bluffs Michelle is also proud of the City of Council Bluffs and the changes she sees around town. There is so much to offer residents; businesses moving to the area, shopping, restaurants etc. The beautification projects and the fabulous 100 Block transformation are the top of her list of favorites.
From the science classrooms of her high school to the cutting edge technology within the walls of the hospital, Michelle continues to share her passions to keep her hometown on the leading edge.