By Donna Parker
Terry Durkin Wilkinson, who received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Trinity in 1974, says she is far wiser than when she graduated several decades ago and laughingly says, “When you are 23 and have just graduated, you think you’re pretty smart and know what you want, but what you want is usually not what you get!”
After earning a master’s degree in marketing from NYU in 1979, Terry went on to work in commercial real estate in Houston, where she met her husband, Jack, and moved to Midland. In 1999, former President George W. Bush appointed Terry to the Texas Department of Human Services Board to help set all human services policies for the state including Medicaid rules, nursing home regulations and oversight. Terry was also appointed to the Health and Human Services Council by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on which she will serve for the next six years.
“From my degree at Trinity, I learned an appreciation of the struggles people with disabilities have to endure. I have been able to carry over that experience in my work with three state agencies, all involved in assisting those with disabilities.”
Terry, who student taught at the Sunshine Cottage for the Deaf in San Antonio, learned early on how rewarding it is to work with those with special needs.
“At the school, there was a special audio system where the teachers had microphones and the kids had special hearing devices that made it easier for them to hear. Some of the kids would cry when they had to take them off at the end of the day because the devices helped them hear sounds they’d never heard before. We were focused on helping the children function in a hearing world, rather than relying on sign language.”
Terry, who was awarded the Santa Catalina 2008 Distinguished Alumna award, is now a partner with Ben Mar Investments in Midland and she continues to campaign on behalf of those with disabilities. She is past chair of the Aging and Disability Services Council and a board member of Midland Memorial Hospital, First National Bank of Midland, and the First Bancshares of Texas Inc. She is also a board member of the Midland College Foundation and Jenna Welsh Wildlife Sanctuary Development Committee, chair of the Midland 2020 Committee, and a special events volunteer at the George Bush Childhood Home.
That is not to say that she and her husband don’t find time to have some fun. Avid travelers, they have been all over the world and love Africa and India the most.
“Both areas are so culturally different and fascinating. They are both so big you can visit multiple times and see different areas and people.”
The couple has raised three daughters, now in their 20s and about whom Terry says, “I am most proud of my daughters who have grown up to be lovely ladies who also want to help others.”
“I’ve lived my life believing that you expose yourself to as many new ideas as you can. Read different magazines, watch different shows, learn a language—travel the world. Things are constantly changing and you have to be ready to accept change.”
“Someone once said, ‘Success is where preparation meets opportunity.’ Be prepared to meet any opportunity that comes your way and you will be a success.”
You may contact Terry via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.