We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Guillot-Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
What a powerful question. I would say, first, it’s less about giving up and more about understanding that paths are never straight – they wind and curve; sometimes you move backwards to get forwards and sometimes you take side streets to get there. With that said, there are definitely times to persevere and times to re-evaluate where you are and where the path is leading. For me, it’s best not to make decisions when I’m already tired and frustrated. Take a day off – take a nap – talk to colleagues – go for a run. I also think what works for me is because of certain personality qualities or my personal history. I might be able to leave a job because I’m treated unfairly, but someone else might not have that luxury or privilege. In those cases, find people you can trust who have been in similar situations and learn how they circumvented an inequitable system. At the end of the day, don’t be an island unto yourself: use your networks and community as well as the people who may have similar experiences.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a faculty member in the Department of Ob/Gyn at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Director of Health Policy Research for the Center for Violence Prevention. Before taking this position, I lived for a year in Washington, D.C. doing a postdoc with Penn State’s Research-to-Policy Collaboration. That was definitely a difficult time because I was away from my husband and son. We saw each other every two weeks and my son spent the summer with me, but getting on the plane to leave always hurt. As painful as it was, I was so proud to teach my son that it’s okay to make hard decisions for something we believe in, especially when our work may be a small part in making people’s lives better. A large focus of my work is understanding how health inequities are tied to political, economic, and social policies, especially for migrants and immigrants. I was taught to leave something better than I found it, and so that’s my goal in my home, with my friends, and at my University.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is so much to do in Galveston. A few of my favorites include going to the beach in the fall/winter or early evening when the crowds have lightened, running at sunrise on the Seawall, finding someone to take you paddle boarding, eating at Rudy & Paco’s if you’re feeling fancy, eating at one of the many great pubs or restaurants on the Strand or Postoffice for those less expensive nights, listening to music at the Old Quarter, and then grabbing a cocktail at DTO, a glass of wine on the Tremont Rooftop, or an IPA and some jukebox music at Old Cellar Bar. If you’re looking for a new outfit, Tangerine Boutique is the best on the island and you can skip over to Mod Coffeehouse for some great coffee and people watching. Basically, get outside and stay outside as much as possible. Galveston has an amazing vibe and the history on the island is remarkable. Any of the Galveston Historical Foundation sites, like the Tall Ship Elissa, dolphin tours, or Bishop’s Palace will not disappoint. If you happen to be here on a Sunday, Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market has great kids activities and fresh foods and it’s right down the street from West Market – a new area filled with great restaurants, coffee, and cocktails.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Rainer Marie Rilke began his book Duino Elegies with: “In the book, there will be no dedication (for I can’t give you what has been yours from the beginning) but instead: From the property of…” I have an incredible network of family, friends, community, and colleagues and I really believe that everything I write and the projects I get to be part of are ours – we share the property rights, so to speak. Out of everyone, though, if I were to choose one shoutout my brother Michael Guillot is the person who has pushed me the most as well as believed in my intellectual abilities.