Victoria Flores Michalchuk transitioned from chemical engineering to nursing

Victoria Flores Michalchuk, first featured in Glimpse in 2014, says she is “driven by my interest to make the world a healthier place.” Victoria earned her PhD this past May; published her first manuscript — Influence of Physical Work Environment on Office Workers Physical Activity Behavior — this summer; and will be teaching in the PhD program at UCSF this fall as adjunct faculty in the School of Nursing. But, it is interesting to review those years leading up to this auspicious accomplishment.
Victoria is the daughter of Hazel Esquibel Flores (DHS, 1978) and Victor M. Flores of Dilley (a successful coach who has worked throughout South Texas, including Devine (1986-91)). Graduating from DHS in 2008, and, summarizing her many high school achievements, Victoria was an outstanding member of the NHS and Warhorse Band, participated in UIL literary in several areas, was on the Varsity track team, was Varsity cheerleader for three years, president of student council, Homecoming Queen in 2007 (sharing the title with her mother who was queen in 1977!), National Hispanic Merit Scholar, and president of Campus Crime Stoppers in her senior year.
Entering The University of Texas as a chemical engineering major, Victoria became involved with campus activity, becoming a member of the Texas Cheer All Girls Squad, giving campus tours, and joining the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. But, Victoria’s career choice would change after driving her grandparents to doctor’s appointments and beginning a summer internship at the Cardiology Clinic. She began a year of research that explored risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Victoria ultimately graduated from The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio in 2013 with a BS in nursing with Cum Laude honors. During this time, she served in a leadership role for Frontera de Salud, a community health outreach serving the Laredo area, volunteered as a Juntos Podemos Teaching Scholar in the School of Nursing — gaining her first taste of teaching, and helped develop the first UTHSCSA Middle School Girls Summer Camp with the Martinez Street Women’s Center where girls learned such basics as first aid skill, CPR, etc.
On a lighter note, Victoria served as Miss Fiesta San Antonio in 2013, and was able to use that experience to build partnerships between the Fiesta Charitable Corporation, the UTHSC, and local health and wellness businesses. Her work was recognized by the 2014 Community-Campus Partnerships for Health International Conference and won a bronze pinnacle award from the International Fiesta and Events Association for Best Outreach Program.

L-R, Back: Frederica, Georgia, Kyra, Trevor. Bottom: Moira, Victoria.

After finishing her BSN in December of 2013, Victoria moved to San Francisco to attend The University of California San Francisco for grad school. Her Master focused on both Adult Primary Care and Occupational & Environmental Health. Because she had worked as a personal trainer during her nursing school years, Victoria got a job as a trainer in the UCSF Work Strong program where she saw clients who were recovering from work-related injuries.
Following her graduation in 2016, Victoria began working in Environment Health & Safety at Genentech, supporting Health Services as a nurse practitioner and health program expert. And, by the way, it is at this time and place that Victoria met her husband, who was the site’s biological Safety Officer and Head of Laboratory safety. Also at this time, Victoria entered the Doctoral Program at UCSF, her dissertation studying the relationship between workplace characteristics and health behaviors.
Victoria says that she became a nurse, “…because of my strong desire to develop a healthier society.” She adds, “Recognizing that we spend a lot of time at work, it’s in our best interest to make work a healthy place.” Thus, Victoria’s research guided her into a new job that “combines the importance of human health and environmental sustainability to foster wellbeing in people and the planet.” That includes “how we build and maintain our buildings and landscape, the foods we serve, the activities and benefits we offer employees, and the policies that shape the culture of Genentech.”
In her present role, Victoria leads a cross functional team of architects, facilities, health & benefits, campus service, and transportation experts that develop strategies to create a work environment that prioritizes health in the design of the workplace.
Outside of school and work, Victoria and her husband, Trevor, have four daughters: Kyra, 14; Frederica and Georgia, 13; and Moira, 2. All four of the girls, including the toddler, participate in Jiu Jitsu with their mother. Victoria explains that they covered their garage in mats at the start of the pandemic and trained together at home. She says, “This has helped keep our sanity throughout the chaos of the past year.” And, once an accomplished athlete herself, Victoria still enjoys watching sports, especially football, and is grateful to Coach Sessions who live-streamed DHS games last season. Victoria adds, “Tuning into my little cousin Gabe Esquibel’s football games on Friday nights became the highlight of the week in our house.”