When you’re trying to get a feel for who Dechelle Brandon is – her resume lists her current job as the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Budget Officer at UNLV – it doesn’t take you long to learn that she does. isn’t like most people you meet in the greater Nevada metro area.
Or in the state for that matter.
She is from Las Vegas – someone born 52 years ago at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, now known as University Medical Center.
A true born and raised Las Vegas-Nevadan.
And that’s no small feat when you consider that Nevada has the lowest number of born residents in the country. A 2019 report released by the Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West to UNLV found that only 7.8% of adults in Clark County were born in Nevada. And data from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau survey found that only about 25 percent of the state’s more than 3 million people were born here.
The same goes for Brandon, a number cruncher who can crunch numbers with the best number crunchers in the world – a woman well aware of how the state’s booming economy has contributed to an astonishing increase. of 900% of the population over the past 50 years who say that “doing my job well ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.”
One of the main factors that prompted Brandon to join medical school after 19 years at the College of Southern Nevada was the poor first aid she believes her then-teenage daughter Daijah, now 24, received. for Crohn’s disease.
“He was misdiagnosed for 18 months. It made me very angry, ”says Brandon. “The doctor kept saying it was just constipation. Daijah was in constant pain, losing weight, and it seemed like there was nothing I could do to improve it.
“This is by far the most difficult situation I have had to face in my life. I cried for many nights but kept fighting to find out what was wrong with my daughter. I finally got a referral to a pediatric gastroenterologist which was a godsend. He had an endoscopy and a colonoscopy, and we found out that she had severe Chrone’s disease. He referred my daughter to a handpicked surgeon and even resumed the fight with the insurance company so my daughter could get the medication she needed. Since my daughter’s operation in 2015, she has been in remission.
When a budget manager position opened up at Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, Brandon quickly applied. She wants to do her part to help the school succeed financially so that it can do good for the community.
“I want to be part of an organization that strives to improve health care in Nevada,” she says. “The people of Nevada deserve it.”
Deep roots in Las Vegas
Willie Washington, Brandon’s father, played basketball for UNLV from 1968 to 1970 before working for EG&G Energy Measurements, where he retired as an electronics technician. “My dad was a great supplier,” Brandon notes. “We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted.
Brandon’s mother, Dorothy, who is also retired, started as a cashier at Nevada State Bank before landing a job as an operations manager at Network Federal Credit Union (known today as America’s First Credit Union. ). “Their hard work and tenacity definitely influenced my work ethic and the way I approach my professional life,” says Brandon.
Married with a daughter and two step-sons, Brandon says, “Family is everything to me. There is nothing I love more than spending time with family. They are my greatest source of joy and strength… My husband, Tony Brandon, who works in Orleans, is just a genuine and kind, helpful person who he can be of help to. My daughter has severe Crohn’s disease but has been in remission, thank goodness, for six years. She is now a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, and works at the YMCA in Las Vegas as an early childhood education teacher.
“Before COVID, it didn’t take much for our family to come together. A quick visit to my parents or an aunt’s house can easily turn into a pizza party … We love to organize elaborate receptions.
After COVID-19 forced quarantines, the family turned to three-hour Zoom calls and social distancing backyard movie nights.
“I’m 52 years old and when my husband and I go out of town I always check in with my parents, tell them I arrived okay… I have to talk to my mom at least every other day. Her voice calms and comforts me.
Brandon, who has a brother and sister living in Las Vegas, calls his childhood, when the Las Vegas metro area was around 300,000 people in the 1970s, “storybook.”
“Life was good growing up. We loved playing outdoors, whether it was kickball, skating, biking, or street relay races. Sport is a big part of my childhood. After my father played on one of the first rebel teams in UNLV, he also played recreational basketball and coached youth basketball. So we spent a lot of time in different gyms and recreation centers across the city.
“My grandfather taught the children in our family to swim in Lake Mead. Family barbecues and meetings at parks including Lorenzi or Tule Springs (currently known as Floyd Lamb State Park) were the highlights of the summer. Another highlight was dressing us up in our best clothes and my grandpa took us to Hush Puppies on Charleston Blvd. For dinner.”
Brandon’s maternal grandfather, along with his parents, stressed the importance of studying hard and getting a solid education. “My grandfather grew up in the South where he didn’t have a lot of opportunities because of his race and he wanted me to educate them,” she says. “I think he only went until sixth grade, then he took any job he could, picking cotton or working in steel mills… He ended up working for 30 years as a cook. at the Nevada test site. ” (about 60 miles from Las Vegas in Nye County, it was the primary testing site for US nuclear devices from 1951 to 1992).
Brandon’s grandfather died of cancer at the age of 68. He was one of many workers at the test site who won government agreements on radiation exposure.
School came easily to Brandon. “I loved the feeling of accomplishment and having good grades. I was introduced to computers in the seventh year. I knew from that moment that I was going to college to study computer science, especially computer programming. I love all that computers can do.
After graduating from high school at the Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center (now the Southeast Career Technical Academy), Brandon traveled to Phoenix to attend DeVry Institute of Technology, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. .
The jobs that followed at the National Nuclear Security Administration / Department of Energy and the College of Southern Nevada were often related to human resources computer data recovery at first, but eventually turned into the financial arena of CSN, where she became a budget analyst. Before leaving CSN for medical school in 2019, she used her computer at night to earn a Masters in Psychology and Business Administration from the University of Phoenix via distance learning.