Joseph Brown has spent nearly two decades in the operating rooms of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and on Saturday he will sport the iconic strikethrough branding of the institution as he is honored as the Hero of the Match at Shell Energy Stadium.
Brown joined MD Anderson in 2006 after serving in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard. The native Houstonian enlisted after he graduated from high school and that experience cultivated a new appreciation for his country.
“I joined the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, I really wanted to serve my country and I knew this was what I wanted to do once I finished school,” Brown said. “I was able to really grow and appreciate everything this country had to give to me.”
He completed his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and began his career as a munition technician at Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, California. This role required an astute eye due to the daily movement and storage of missiles and other explosives. His role was elevated as the country prepared for and navigated Operation Desert Storm in the summer of 1990.
Brown transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard following his time in the Air Force. The Fifth Ward native found the transition challenging due to his limited swimming experience. He failed his initial swimming and diving test, but he would not be denied. Brown trained with Air Survival Men, an elite class of rescue divers, and ultimately exceed the requirements of the test.
He would serve as a small boat crewman and health services technician along the East Coast beginning in New Jersey. His time in the Coast Guard ultimately paved the way for him to answer a calling shared by his siblings, mother and grandma.
"I come from a family of nurses, my mother is a nurse and my sisters, my grandmother was a nurse. I was destined to be a nurse,” Brown explained. “I was going to Texas Southern to become a pharmacist after my time in the service. I switched to nursing school not long after that and I've been a nurse ever since, hoping that I can give back and make my patients feel welcomed.”
Staff, family and visitors could always locate a room or patient under Brown’s care. He prioritized the smallest details to make everyone feel at home and confident as they prepared for or recovered from their procedure. Small details like coordinating a patient’s favorite meal or supplying extra washcloths made a big difference for families and patients.
His peers noticed and valued his efforts as well, they nominated Brown to the MD Anderson Nursing Rising Star Program, and he finished as a finalist for the 2016 Brown Foundation Award for the Most Outstanding Clinical Nurse at MD Anderson.
Brown is now preparing for the next phase of his career and plans to enroll in school for a master's in nursing education. Ultimately, he wants to share his passion for the profession with the next generation of nurses.
The father of five also enjoys spending time with his family. His two sons are currently enrolled at the University of Houston. Ty Brown is studying biomedical engineering and Jaiden Brown is studying data science. His youngest daughter, Orianna Brown, is pursuing a career in human resources. Victoria Brown is a graphic designer and Nakeya Brown is an art teacher and photographer on the East Coast.
Join us at Shell Energy Stadium on Saturday when we honor Brown as our Hero of the Match!