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Wishing Upon a Star

Thursday, May 29, 2008

by Donna Parker

Mindi Miller-Davis, a 1989 graduate who earned a degree in computer science, works daily problem solving for outer space exploration, but her heart is much closer to home. This senior systems analyst for Barrios Technology, a NASA contractor, writes software for flight manifests between shuttles and space stations and says,

"I do have a lot of fun with programming - it's like solving a puzzle."

But clearly, what touches her heart is light years away from programming software. Mindi is president of An Orphan's Bright Star - a charity outreach making positive changes for orphans in the Ukraine. And, Mindi who lives in Seabrook, Texas is also a mom of four - two of whom are Ukrainian adoptees.

"When we adopted our first little girl, Yeva, from the Svalyava Orphanage in 2002, it changed my world. These orphans, living in very poor conditions, called everyone they see 'Mama' or 'Papa'."

It moved Mindi and her husband, Gary '89, so much that they adopted Svetlana three years later.

"Prior to my involvement in An Orphan's Bright Star (www.orphansbrightstar.org), I was totally immersed in my senior information technology career path," says Mindi.

"Honestly - now, I could care less. I bring in money to pay the bills for my children. My husband and I both have had a huge change of heart about what is important and career advancement is not even in that picture," states Mindi emphatically.

Mindi and her husband have two biological children, Megan, 14, and Stephen, 12. Together, as a family, they spend time in their backyard pool, firing up the BBQ with Mindi's parents, who live nearby. They need the help, as both Ukrainian daughters have significant health problems.

Svetlana who goes by "Ana" may require a liver transplant and Yeva, virtually abandoned as a baby, had some difficulty mentally adjusting to life in the U.S. However, Mindi says that Yeva is now "one of the gang" and bickers with her older brother and sister about normal kid things.

All of the medical appointments for the girls took their toll and Mindi recently resigned from Barrios Technology, who instead asked her to work part-time.

"Now I can take the girls to school and the doctors. Having disabled children has taught me so much. Grades aren't the only yardsticks by which everyone will be measured. Our goal is for them is to live happy, full lives."

Mindi says Trinity provided the sheltered life necessary to expand her thinking under minimal pressure. She praises Paul Myers, department of computer science, for keeping class light and fun.

"Also, Ronald Prather, department of computer science, taught me to think through things...to look at a task and not feel overwhelmed; that you can work your way through and reach a correct, final conclusion."

"It's funny - I think now about how easy I had it and what a good life it was without real responsibilities. I do regret not appreciating that time in my life, but if you'd asked me then if I'd be doing this, 20 years later, my answer would have been, 'Nope! Not even close!' "

You may email Mindi at mindi [at] orphansbrightstar.org.