‘It’s Never Too Late,’ UMB Security Officer Says After Being Honored by Physician Assistant Program

Nearly 40 years after starting PA courses, Evelyn Greenhill is surprised with an honorary PA white coat

May 10, 2024 | Carin Cardella

Nearly 40 years after beginning her physician assistant (PA) courses, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) security officer Evelyn Greenhill now beams with pride as she shows off her own short white coat. The 70-year-old was shocked to hear her name called during a PA ceremony on April 17 honoring the PA Class of 2025.

The plan began when Greenhill met Cherilyn “Cheri” Hendrix, DHEd, MSBME, PA-C, DFAAPA, assistant dean for physician assistant education at UMB. The PA program’s open skills lab is on the first floor of the Lexington Building, where Greenhill works.

“[Greenhill] confided in me one day that she took all her prerequisite courses to attend PA school many, many years back,” Hendrix says. With just one year left in the program, Greenhill withdrew to take care of her two children. “That tugged at my heart. I could see in her eyes how she is still bothered to this day that she could not finish what she started."

Hendrix says she walked to her office, picked up the phone, and called Tomika Jones, MA, the department’s program administrator and PA student success coach. “I told Tomika I wanted Evelyn to be our ‘honorary’ PA student,” Hendrix says. “Evelyn is such a kind and caring soul, and I thought this honor would only be fitting for her.”

Unbeknownst to Greenhill, the gears were now in motion for an amazing surprise. Meanwhile, Greenhill was enjoying getting to know the PA students she saw throughout the week. She even calls them “her” students.

“I ask them how they’re doing. I ask if there’s anything I can do for them,” Greenhill says. “They ask me to pray for them. They come by more and more and we interact. I love people. I love doing for people.”

Greenhill says she enjoys working behind the scenes. She is devout in her faith and says it grounds her in her work. “God created me to be a servant of him and to be a servant for others. Whatever I do for people, I do from the heart.”

Her care is clear to those who work with her. “Miss Evelyn takes the time to know people,” says Vanessa Harrington, MS, SHRM-CP, executive director of security and compliance for UMB Police and Public Safety. “She recognizes when they’re having a good day or a bad day. She really gets to know them, so she’s not there just to protect them, but also to be a support for them.”

Harrington goes on to say that the interactions are not one-sided. “I think too often during the day we forget that what we’re doing isn’t just about work. It’s about people,” Harrington says. “It’s nice that Cheri reminded us of these human connections.”

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