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Employee Spotlight: DaVina Austin, Senior Human Resources Business Partner

As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re spotlighting our caregivers, the diversity they bring and the difference they make at UT Health East Texas.

(February 9, 2024) – DaVina Austin, a senior human resources business partner at UT Health East Texas, was drawn to human resources because it’s a career centered on using her communication skills to do what she loves the most — helping others succeed. 

DaVina, who grew up in Tyler and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School before attending Tyler Junior College and later UT Tyler, initially thought she wanted to major in business or law, but quickly realized she enjoyed her communications classes the most in college.

She received her bachelor’s in communications, but became interested in HR while working at SuddenLink Communications.

“During my time there I would always find my way up to the HR office. I knew the HR director there and I would always go up ask questions,” she said. “I thought one day I’m probably going to get into HR because I found it fascinating to help people.”

As soon as she graduated with her bachelor’s degree, she immediately pursued her master’s in human resources development, and an HR coordinator position opened at SuddenLink so she applied for and got the job. Within a year, while still pursuing her master’s, she moved up to an HR generalist position, and continued working there until 2017. She then took a position at Mercy Ships as a general staffing manager, where her primary responsibility was to oversee the staffing of general positions on the Africa Mercy ship, which provides free surgeries to those in need. Because of the international nature of the nonprofit, based in Lindale, sometimes that meant waking up in the middle of the night to conduct job interviews at 3 a.m. with someone halfway across the world.

While she enjoyed the Mercy Ships job, she was open to being recruited by UT Health East Texas because she missed the interpersonal connections of face-to-face interactions.

“One thing that attracted me to UT Health was that I got to get back into true HR work,” DaVina said. “Even though I got to work with some fabulous people at Mercy Ships, I was still missing the in-depth employee relations part of it.”

DaVina said she feels like HR is her calling and her purpose is “to help those who truly need help.”

“Whether it’s finding a different position because they’re not in the right fit and they’re struggling through it or helping a leader manage their department or just how to have a good culture and be a good leader, my purpose is to help everyone who I come in contact with,” she said. “That’s what gives me joy is to know that I’ve helped somebody even in the midst of chaos.”

DaVina said she also finds fulfillment through her work as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. 

“I wanted to be involved with the DEI Council because I know what it feels like and I’ve seen it throughout my career where people felt like they didn’t belong or they weren’t included for various reasons,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help make a difference within our work community and also the community that we live in.”