USF Alumna Drives Wellness on Wheels

by Eva Reyes, Office of Development Communications

Magis, a core Jesuit value that refers to doing more for others, has guided Michele Rigsby Pauley ’82 in her life. After serving as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) she relishes doing more for her alma mater.

Rigsby Pauley started her nursing career with the intention of becoming a pediatric nurse. Following her time at USF and her work with oncology and other very sick patients at the UCSF Medical Center, she felt called to prioritize preventative health care for her children.

“After 5 years of helping patients get well, I decided that I wanted to focus on primary care and  help children stay well,” said Rigsby Pauley.

Meeting Others Where They Are

After completing UCSF’s graduate program, Rigsby Pauley started working as a PNP in one of Southern California’s renowned hospitals, Cedars-Sinai, providing care to children of underserved families in the Los Angeles area. In 1994, when the hospital launched COACH for Kids, a new mobile-medical program that set out to safeguard the health of some of the county’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, Rigsby Pauley was called to be the first nurse practitioner on the vehicle.

“I worked with low-income families at Cedars-Sinai’s pediatric clinic, so I knew this population from that perspective. But going out on a mobile clinic into communities in Skid Row and South Los Angeles where families had intense needs, was an eye-opener,” said Rigsby Pauley.

Over a period of 26 years under Rigsby Pauley’s leadership as program director, the program grew to address further determinants of a child’s well-being by providing mental health, case management, and screening services. Rigsby Pauley’s team would also go on to develop dental, nutrition, and fitness programs made available in classroom settings.


USF BASE alumni smiling

Following retirement, Rigsby Pauley continues to give to USF’s Black Achievement Success and Engagement (BASE) program and other university initiatives in support of the Jesuit mission and value of Magis, which refers to doing more for others.

“I feel honored to now offer mentorship to USF as its values aligned with mine and made me more of who I am. A former COACH team member and aspiring nurse told me several years ago that he was inspired to further his education at USF based on what he saw in me, so I am very pleased that he was recently accepted into the USF School of Nursing and Health Professions and will start this semester," said Rigsby Pauley.

Rigsby Pauley shared her appreciation for the endless opportunities for generosity afforded to USF alumni groups. She hopes her story is one that inspires new generations of leaders to listen closely to the needs of their community and respond from where they are.

Learn how you can support USF’s School of Nursing and Health Profession initiatives from where you are.