• Member since: 1987
• Home: Hartford, Conn.
• Occupation: Pediatric psychologist, Connecticut Children's Medical Center
• A calling to help kids: Rzepski has worked with children and adolescents throughout her professional life, first as a social worker, then as a special education teacher, and for the past 23 years, as a pediatric psychologist.
"I completely feel I'm doing my true calling, though it took me a while to find it," says Rzepski, who earned her doctorate in school psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985.
• Team interventions: For the past 15 years, she's worked on two multidisciplinary teams at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. One sees young inpatients who have suffered traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, the other works with outpatients with chronic pain. The teams collaborate to help these youngsters cope, heal, and get back into school and life. For Rzepski, that may involve helping a child participate in rehab, adjust to a new physical reality or address the anxiety that often accompanies pain.
Working with schools—and families—is key to these efforts. "Our philosophy is if you're treating the child, you're treating the family," Rzepski says. In part, that's because research shows that family attitudes toward a child's condition make a huge difference in how quickly and well youngsters rejoin their normal activities, she says.
• Job perks: Working in a hospital setting is stimulating, exhausting and rewarding, Rzepski says. "Sometimes you see heartbreaking things, but there are many cases where children get well and make progress, and where families show an incredible capacity to face whatever was dealt to them." Rzepski also appreciates the chance to treat children at different stages of their development. "Not everyone gets to see that," she says.
• The good life: In her off time, Rzepski enjoys art, movies and traveling with her husband, Theodore Rzepski, a special ed teacher. The two have traveled extensively in Europe and the United States, and recently visited Croatia for a nephew's wedding, where they also went island-hopping. "It was gorgeous, and it's still cheap—it's like Italy was 25 years ago," she says.
• A great escape: Food is a big interest for the couple as well. The two especially like it when their New York-dwelling children—Patrick, a fashion designer, and Annick, who works in catering and fine dining—come for a visit. "A fun night is figuring out what we want to cook, buying the food and coming home and cooking together," she says.
Rzepski was reading about food and travel long before "Julie & Julia" hit movie theaters. Favorite books include Julia Child's 2006 memoir "My Life in France" and M.F.K. Fisher's tomes on food and culture. "For me, reading those books is this whole other world from my professional life," Rzepski says. "I love it, it's renewing and I can still go back and do my work."
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