George Roark ’96


George Roark MS’96 is exactly the kind of person you’d want during an emergency response.  The CDC thought so too, deploying him to address Haiti’s cholera outbreak following a devastating earthquake.

By Donna Parker

George RoarkWhen cholera erupted on the streets of Haiti, eventually killing 5,000 and sickening 300,000 people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control took action.  Emergency Management Specialist George Roark, who received a master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity in 1996, was deployed to the scene from his Georgia office to investigate the cause of the disease, which ran rampant when thousands of homeless Haitians crowded the streets. 

“We went in to make sure scientists could perform their testing and eventually, through shipping shellfish samples to Mobile, Ala., we discovered that contaminated shellfish was spreading the disease,” explains George.

George, who managed an operations support team, oversaw personnel deployment, set up computers and Internet, and handled overall logistics—quite a task in a country that ended up nearly destroyed.  For his work, George won a special service award for his management of critical resources.

George says his degree in health care administration has come in very handy in his career, but surprisingly valuable has been his communication courses at Trinity.

“Dr. William McCaughrin, department of health care administration, taught me how to write and that has paid huge dividends.  I’m using it right now designing a contract with Emory University,” says George, who laughingly continues, “I should have applied myself even more!”

“The one-on-one access at Trinity was invaluable and I learned so much.  I remember Ted Sparling, department of health care administration, who taught an ethics course in health care.  The course tackled a lot of really complicated issues, but he had a knack for making things make sense.”

Another instructor who has had a huge influence on George is Dr. Rita Drieghe Kosnik, department of business administration. She taught negotiations and dispute resolution- the power of the BATNA - best alternative to a negotiated agreement! George said the students should remember this! Learning negotiation skills has paid huge dividends with stakeholders inside and outside the CDC.
“While at Trinity, I was an Army major just coming from a duty station in Bangkok and needed my master’s degree to move forward in the military.  Although my other choices were Duke and GWU, I chose Trinity because it was small with a good reputation and we were crazy about San Antonio,” says this spirited grad.

George, who is married and has one teenage daughter named Morgan, is dedicated to his job, but a cause near to his heart is running an annual hunt for medically fragile children and injured soldiers at his family ranch called Daggerhorn in Alabama. 

“We hunt deer, but really it’s just a tremendous growth experience for the kids and vets.  We treat everybody the same and give them the full experience of hunting and being in control. We never have to ask for volunteers.  There are always a huge number of people who just show up to help.”

This dedicated dad spends every free moment with Morgan as she competes in singing competitions around the South.

“She dances, sings, and acts—a triple threat! She’s an only child without a selfish bone in her body.  I’m very thankful that she is a good Christian kid.”

“Basically,” says George, “I embrace challenges and love showing people how to face them and make life happen.”    

You may contact George at groark@cdc.gov.

After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions.  We are looking for suggestions in these four categories:  1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator