he believes, by her self-discipline as an athlete. Dr. Rhett clearly recalls the day she was converted to the field of anesthesiology. During her surgical rotation, “an anesthesiologist stepped forward and enticed me to take a look behind the drape,” she says. “The OR was exciting, but a lot was going on behind the scenes.” A year later, she graduated from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School with an award for academic excellence in anesthesiology. At UT, Dr. Rhett split her internship year between internal medicine and pediatrics, a foundation for working not only with adults but also with the children she would see at UT Health affiliate Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital. In 2010, during her residency, Dr. Rhett accompanied her mother and sister on a trip to Ghana to visit a girls’ school sponsored by her family’s church. It was the second trip for her mother, Gloria, a former teacher and principal, and the first for Dr. Rhett and her sister, Amandi, a mechanical engineer. Independently, Dr. Rhett turned the trip into a small medical mission, performing simple examinations such as blood pressure measurement on the students and local residents. She also distributed basic medical and hygiene supplies donated by Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center. “These students had been ‘purchased’ out of an illegal form of ritual servi- tude that makes them outcasts in the community. But at the school, they learn a marketable trade and receive a seed fund upon graduation,” says Dr. Rhett. “Our mission was to dedicate a new building and show the girls that they are loved by us and by God.” Dr. Rhett says she and her sister were deeply moved by the experience, “because we look like these girls. And the girls were so proud to see their American ‘cousins’ doing so well and giving back to their ancestral homeland. “We traveled around the countryside, where local residents, energized by President Obama’s 2009 visit, were excited to meet an African American,” she says. “It especially intrigued them that I had a Ghanaian name, Esi, which in their language means ‘a girl born on Sunday.’” In 2011, after appointment as a fulltime assistant professor at UT, Dr. Rhett continued to travel the world. A year later, she received the Outstanding Clinical Instructor award from the Houston location of the Case Western Reserve University Master of Science in Anesthesia Program. Carin Hagberg, MD, who chaired the —Continued on page 46 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE 43 COURTESY OF ESI M. RHETT–BAMBERG, MD ’07